No one knows what your vision looks like but you
“Miss Pratt, there are 425 passengers on this flight who are not receiving any attention at the moment because every one of my flight attendants are looking for a child that none of them believe was ever on board! If you think we could be doing more to meet your needs, then I suggest you take it up with customer service after we land.” – Captain Rich talking to Jodie Foster’s character in the movie Flightplan.
Jodie Foster is trying to save her child who is kidnapped mid-flight and put somewhere in the cargo area. While the airplane is still in the air, she tries to find her to save her daughter’s life. However the problem is no one believes the child exists. They all think she is a crazy person. I remember watching this movie and feeling so much grief for Jodie, of course for her mother’s journey, but more because no one believed her that her child actually existed. She was alone in her plight.
This is the same reason why pursuing a vision/goal is so challenging – because before we achieve it, it only exists via our vision in our head. Everyone else sees it as just an idea – and could easily judge or doubt it.
As visionaries our child is our vision we are pursuing, and we are the only ones who full understand its existence. In fact we have it worse than Jodie Foster, because we ourselves don’t know for sure if it will ever exist…leaving room for doubt that maybe the naysayers are right. To be completely alone with this imaginary little child without others validating its existence and still maintain the motivation to feed it, nurture it, and develop it – is difficult.
If you’ve been on any social network, we all know what you really want to do is – instagram, facebook, flickr, youtube every hair growth of your baby to the world. This is one of the most joyous parts of life – to share the successes, failures, and progress of something you put all your heart and soul into.
Is there a goal you have envisioned reaching for a while? Maybe becoming a yoga instructor, changing careers, starting a business, or getting in shape? Do you struggle with believing in it yourself because you sense the doubt of others around you?
In this blog post I will:
- Share with you a story of how someone I just met completely disagreed with parts of my vision
- How I dealt with the discouragement
- 6 ways to take a step back from a highly charged conversation
- 4 Techniques to process someone’s criticism towards your vision/goal
- 5 tips how to prepare yourself for vision criticism
In the real world, when we share there is a Like button and a Dislike button
So what should you do – should you share or not share? Inevitably there will be times where you will need to share because it leads to feedback, support and inspiration necessary for success. In addition, it explain to your family and friends why you haven’t liked any of their Facebook posts lately and spend all your time in the basement. You have to share in some aspect.
The next question is, once you have shared, then how do you deal with someone who clearly doubts or disagrees with your vision? This isn’t a light topic. Alone on a plane of over 100 people who were so angry at her, even Jodie started to wonder if she was crazy. What would have happened if Jodie started to believe them? Would she have continued to fight to find her child? In the early stages, a vision is so fragile, that buying into one person’s negativity can mean life or death for the vision.
The moment you believe the naysayers is the moment you stop fighting.
I’ve been challenged with this issue for the past year and a half as I worked towards my vision for a formula and a system to live our most vibrant, happy & productive life. And recently I had my own real life Jodie Foster experience – talking to someone who completely doubted my vision. This is how it went and what I did to handle it.
It started off rosy, like the beginning of a romantic comedy with Jennifer Aniston
With fall creeping towards winter on a nippy day in October, the cold air managed to slip through the poorly insulated (but pretty) doors of the coffee shop. I found a spot on a shared table. 10 minutes later the girl next to me turned to me and asked me if I was as cold as she was. I agreed it was cold, and told her my secret these days was to wear pants. She then said she couldn’t do that because she hadn’t done laundry for weeks. We both chuckled. How nice, I thought to myself, I love meeting new friends!
“Sorry, did I meet you before?” she asked me.
“No I don’t this so. I’m Kristy.” I said as I stuck out my hand.
“I’m Beth.” she said, responding with a smile and a handshake.
We eventually got into a conversation about what each of us did. She talked about a nonprofit she ran that I had come across before.
“Wow that’s amazing!” I said. I was so inspired. I immediately imagined myself volunteering to help and getting involved. Then she talked about how challenging the work was and how the last time she took a vacation she just cried because of all the stress.
“What do you do?”, she then asked me. Suddenly that shaky moment of determining if and how much of my vision I should share.
I opened up.
I told her I was working on a system to be happy and productive and my belief that love and attention are at it’s core (blog post to come on this). I tried to summarize my work in a clear, concrete way (which is still difficult for me). And that I was developing a system that was largely based on the idea that we all truly seek loving attention. Considering her line of work and her background, I believed her response would be excitement and encouragement
But it turned into the non-blockbuster movie, Mean Girls II
My mind thought refute? Like whhhhhaaazzzt? I think that means disprove? Is that what she meant?
Indeed she did mean that. She talked about all the guys she dated who gave her attention but just did it for selfish reasons. How one was already involved and just wanted emotional connection.
“There are problems with attention because you don’t know if it’s genuine.” she said. “You can’t trust anyone. Guys will probably just cheat on you, so you just have to be out for yourself.”
She talked about how everyone was unhappy in New York City, then asking me if I took drugs for my anxiety.
“No” I responded. Then she gave me her assessment of the high achieving world of New Yorkers. How they were all addicted to something – like antidepressants, illegal drugs, sex, the gym (wait, I like the gym and… ) and are incredibly unhappy. How they were all self-centered and out for themselves. Then she gave me an example of a photographer friend who was only willing to help her once she realized how celebrity connected her nonprofit was. It would be a miracle to find even a few people who genuinely cared about you in New York, she continued with a head nod and wide open eyes.
My long term vision is to develop a system that people can use to systematically be productive and happy in their life. The system is based on the vibrant life formula. And one of the core principles of the formula that she was disagreeing with was the idea that we all need attention and love to feel happy.
I could sense myself starting to feel really defensive. Doubtful thoughts that maybe my research was wrong started to come up. Maybe I was wrong I thought to myself. Maybe I am just naive to the true ways of the world.
Then it was my turn to talk. I validated her perspective that others can be self absorbed, and in that way be hurtful to others. I tried to clarify what I meant about attention, by explaining that attention in the form of using it to get what you want, wasn’t the type of unconditional loving attention I meant.
I was hopeful that now she would understand what I was saying and agree with my stance.
Her response started with “Yeah, but…”
She continued to elaborate passionately on the many ways people are self absorbed and disingenuous in the city.
She told me a story of how she was propositioned so many times for sex from random people. Then about someone she met at a party who talked about a running class she joined.
“A running club?” she said with emotion and a perplexed face. “Only in New York do you have to pay for that. She obviously was really just wanting to be a part of something and then wanting to brag about it.”
Now it was the Titanic. Hit by hit…my heart started to sink – should my heart go on?
After listening to her very impassioned examples of the selfish of the world for 30 minutes, I could feel my heart sink. Maybe I couldn’t help people see the love in the world. My words clearly didn’t have an effect on her. “What’s wrong with a running club?”, I thought to myself.
Then I tried to become aware of the situation. I tried to become aware again in my body and listen to her with my whole body, without judgement. This was difficult! I wanted to just keep telling her my perspective and help her see my point of view.
I calmly responded that it’s true people can be hurtful, but for me I see it as it’s only because they are suffering and want what I want, to be unconditionally loved.
I paused and didn’t return to my point, just validating again what she was saying – that people can be hurtful.
What did I really want to say in this situation? My thoughts, fears and ego wanted her to agree with me – so I felt the urge to explain myself more.
But, when I felt my whole self, and took a step back from my thoughts I realized I would rather just have her feel loved and accepted, as I would want to be. If I were to truly express my point, it would be to live it in that moment. And that would be to not judge her opinion or be reactive.
About 45 minutes after our hands first shook, the conversation subsided and we returned back to our laptops. Looking at my laptop, I tried to go back to what I was doing, but couldn’t.
This was the moment of truth, with so much negative energy and thoughts going through me, and I was alone. Could the vision I have been working towards for the past year and half actually exist? Maybe I should give up.
Lost…ready to give up
Jodie Foster stares off into the small round airplane window at the darkness outside handcuffed to the seat. Next to her a therapist tries to console her so that she realizes that her child isn’t alive. Then Jodie lowers her gaze to the bottom of the window and sees a finger drawn smudged heart on the window that her daughter had drawn earlier. She does exist! Jodie is re-energized. With even more drive inside her she manages to escapes the handcuffs to continue her search for her child even more aggressively.
As I stared at my laptop I realized that I had so much energy towards the conversation. So I immediately I started to write about it. In fact, this is the blog post. I wrote and wrote for 4 hours nonstop. It just came out. It was amazing!
Using this post to reflect on what helped me stay positive, and what I would do next time to prepare me for next time, here are tips on how to deal with a vision doubting conversation.
How to deal with someone who doubts your vision
Mid-conversation – 6 ways to take a step back from a highly charged conversation
My main goal was to take a step back from what she was saying so I could
- Listen with the least amount of judgement.
- Objectively reflect on what she was saying. Looking for information that could be useful.
- Validate their point & respond without defensiveness.
To achieve the above I reminded myself:
- Them – That what she was saying was about her. Her words are her thoughts and generally her story is about her, not me. This helped me to take a step back.
- Whole Self – To focus putting my awareness in my body (whole self), not in my head (because that just increased the volume on my reactive thoughts).
- Trying to sense my breathe through my whole body.
- Focus on listening with my whole body vs. talking.
- Same Needs – That she is just like me and fundamentally has the same needs as me – to feel loved, appreciated, peaceful, safe, optimistic.
- Gift – That she is sharing with me, and though there is a level of ego involved, for her to share anything is a gift.
- Want – Asking myself what does she want from this conversation? How can I help her feel that within my parameters?
- Information – What information can I extract directly or indirectly from this conversation, that can help me with achieving my vision?
Post-conversation – 4 Techniques to process someone’s criticism towards your vision/goal
Despite my efforts to keep my awareness in my body, away from my head, I was still very affected by her disagreement. I could feel the frustration energy inside of me. Post conversation I did the following.
- Texted a friend about it immediately. Even a 2 sentence text blurb to a friend helped me!
- Wrote about it.
- Meditated and gave myself the loving attention I needed.
- Had a long phone conversation about it with a friend.
Pre-Conversation – 5 tips how to prepare yourself for vision criticism
Here are some additional tips I now remind myself before I share my vision. Maybe they can work for you too.
- Only share what I am are strong enough to receive criticism about.
- Identify my supporters to be able to talk/text them later if needed.
- Go into it with awareness in my whole self body so I can step back from the reactive thoughts that will come up.
- Remember my vision is not me.
- Remember that my vision is always improving. And that market studies and focus groups are really expensive. This person’s feedback, when broken down could contain important clues to help me make my vision even more successful. And it would be free! So go into “as a researcher mode”, vs. “this is personal mode”.
Like the movie The Hangover, it turns out it wasn’t so bad
2 long phone conversations, 2 thirty minute meditations, 1 nights sleep, a blog post, and 24 hours later, I’m better! Yeah that wasn’t too bad. Okay, okay it was difficult. But I got through it and was able to come out of it with 3 important things
- Information about how to improve my vision
- Still a strong faith in my vision
- Compassion for the naysayer – Looking back, I realize even more how I couldn’t take what she was saying to heart. If I had the same conversation with my January-2012-self I might have also doubted my current vision. Because of my experiences over the last year and half, I’m in a different place with a different perspective.It would be unfair and impossible for me to expect Beth to see my position from a 30 second blurb about my work. Since my goal is to help people like Beth, I have to cultivate my compassion and connection to them to truly create a valuable service/product for them.
Keep Your Faith, You will Reach Your Vision
Finally as visionaries, that’s the purpose of our work towards our vision, to actually create it, so doubters can finally fully experience it in real life. People are afraid of what they don’t know, and they don’t know your vision, only you do. That’s okay, we got this, we will create it.
In Flightplan Jodie Foster is able to beat the kidnapper bad guy and find her daughter who had been drugged asleep in the side cargo area. In the last scene, she picks up her daughter and walks off the plane and past all 100+ passengers who doubted her. Satisfaction.
Share your vision, and listen to responses by stepping back and remembering it’s about the speaker. Despite feeling a lot of energy, focus on finding information that can be used to improve your vision.
Most of all fight for your vision. You need you, I need you, the world needs visionaries like you to make changes to improve the world. One day you and I will also be holding our child in real life, with everyone finally understanding what we were doing the whole time.
What is your vision and how do you deal with vision doubters? Do you share or not share what you are working on with friends and family? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. 🙂