Have you ever had naysayers in your life? People who told you that you can’t? You aren’t good enough? You should give up? etc…
If you have – I think your job is to prove them wrong!
In eighth grade I decided that I was shifting gears. I was done playing soccer (which had been my life for the previous 9 years) and I was going to play basketball. I had played before but I wasn’t on any of the high school developmental teams or in the leagues and tournaments that the real players were in – so if I wanted to make the high school team in a year, I had my work cut out for me.
I started to practice. I mean really practice – it was an obsession. (Just ask my 40 year old next door neighbor that I challenged to play one on one every night). But the practice paid off and I improved. There was an open tryout for the eighth competitive team and I decided to go out. All of the kids there had played together for years and nobody knew me – but I played well and I turned some heads. After three nights of tryouts they called out the players who made it and my name was called. We quickly had a team huddle and the couch passed out the schedules. I was devastated because the team played in one Saturday league and two Sunday leagues. I had decided a long time before this tryout that I wasn’t going to play on Sundays. For me Sunday is a day for worship and family. I still live by that rule today and have turned down some amazing speaking engagements because of it. So right after the huddle, I told the coach that I wouldn’t play on Sundays and that I was sorry I didn’t know before he picked me. He was upset and told me I had wasted his time. He said he was on the fence about me and this confirmed his suspicions. Then, here is the clincher, he told me that I would never make the high school team if I didn’t play on his team.
He didn’t convince me to change my values – instead I reached out to some friends and we formed a team that played in the same Saturday league against the other competitive teams. Ok – Fast forward to that summer. I made the freshman summer league team and had a great experience but in the fall when the regular season tryouts came – I was cut from the team. I remember crying on the steps at my school and my Dad sat next to me and just put his hand on my back. He didn’t really say anything but he didn’t need to, he just needed to be there. Sure I was sad that I didn’t make the team but you know what hurt more? – is that jerk of a coach was right! So I let myself be sad for a night and then the next day – back to work. My job was to prove him wrong and so I practiced. I worked out and I played a lot of basketball. I figured I had to improve more than the guys who were playing on the high school team and I did, because that summer – I made the JV Team!
It’s funny that my thoughts went to that experience because I haven’t thought about it in years – but last week I was at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego receiving an award and I was standing on stage thinking about that experience.
Let me back up. When my brother Scott and I were 21 and 22, we started a business in direct sales we had a lot of people tell us that we were going to fail. That we were two young. That we knew nothing about business. etc… But we also had some great supports and mentors who did believe in us and encouraged us every step of the way. We built our business to over $20 Million in annual sales while still in our twenties and we proved the naysayers wrong. It’s a good feeling.
Then five years ago, I decided to step out on the limb again and follow my heart to pursue writing and speaking. I knew I would have naysayers, I was used to them. I figure if you don’t have naysayers in your life – you aren’t far enough out on the limb.
Sometimes though – you don’t know who those naysayers will be. I had a chance to visit with one of my mentors who had been instrumental in our success as entrepreneurs. He was someone I looked up to and wanted to be like. And I told him that I wanted to be an author and a professional speaker. He just stared at me for what seemed like 30 seconds and then he leaned in and said – “Ty, no one will ever pay you to speak to them.”
His statement stung but it didn’t crush me. I was shocked at why he wanted to tear me down and I still don’t understand it. I don’t understand why people act like that. Maybe they are trying to protect you, or maybe they are speaking from their own insecurities or maybe they are just plain jerks. Either way – I looked back at him and said, “Just watch, I will prove you wrong!”
My friend Don Yaeger is a sports guru. He has studied, interviewed and spent time with some of the greatest champions in the world and one of the characteristics of greatness that he has discovered is that champions use adversity as fuel. It doesn’t stop them – it drives them. What do you do when someone says you can’t? What do you do when you face rejection? What do you do when you fail?
I left my mentor’s house with a new determination that I was going to make a huge dent as a speaker, it was like throwing gasoline on a fire that was already burning inside me.
So five years later, I have written two books and I have spoken for some of the most recognizable companies in the world. Coca-Cola, Subway, Nestle, ReMax, Wounded Warriors, and hundreds of other companies and organizations. And I was honored last week to receive the CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) Award from The National Speakers Association. The CSP is a designation with extensive criteria – the foremost being that you have to have made more than $250,000 as a paid speaker in a few years.
So I stood on stage with a medal around my neck and I thought – I proved him wrong! Not only did I prove him wrong but I did it in record time and as one of the youngest to ever receive the award.
Then I had a thought I’ve never had in five years. I was grateful to my mentor for being the a naysayer in my life. I was truly grateful because his comments drove me. And then I thought about it and I was grateful to the coach I had for 5 minutes in eighth grade because he drove me and my love for basketball came out of his comments. I guess I am grateful for my naysayers. And I am grateful for yours.
The feeling of overcoming opinion, obstacles, and odds is incredible. It’s a feeling everyone should work their butt off to feel.
I still think your job is to prove them wrong. But be grateful for the naysayers out there that say you can’t – use it as fuel and prove them wrong!