We love a good “prove them wrong” story. But here’s where that strategy falls short.
When Michael Jordan, the best basketball player ever to grace the court, was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, he gave a speech riled with digs at all the people who had slighted him.
Jordan flew his high school basketball coach, who didn’t put him on the varsity team in his sophomore year, to the ceremony, just so he could say to the guy’s face “I proved you wrong.”
As if the guy didn’t already know.
Proving Them Wrong
The motivation to prove others wrong can be a powerful force.
The annals of entrepreneurship, pro-sports, Hollywood, and every other industry are filled with stories of people who succeeded despite being told they didn’t have what it takes, their idea wasn’t good enough, or some other version of no.
We love a good “prove them wrong” story.
My own life has been filled with them.
What Happens Next?
But what happens after we’ve proven them wrong?
Maybe along the way you come to love the thing for itself. You find value in it for its own sake.
But what if you don’t?
One of two things usually happens:
You look for the next people to prove wrong, or
you find yourself in the emptiness of that feeling you were trying to escape in the first place:
The feeling of not being enough.
Good enough. Smart enough. Strong enough.
The Feeling of Not Enough
The motivation to prove others wrong may sustain you for a while, but eventually it wears thin.
Critics panned Jordan’s Hall of Fame speech as vindictive and petty. It revealed an insecurity that could not be erased by years of championships.
Despite all he had won, all his success, all he had accomplished and amassed, it was clear that Jordan still felt he was not good enough.
When we feel we are enough, we no longer feel the need to prove people wrong or shove our success in the face of those who doubted us. Success speaks for itself.
We Can Tell
In the business context, we can tell when someone is driven by the need to prove everyone wrong. They carry a certain energy that tells us: I’m trying to convince myself as much as you. We can feel the insecurity and the doubt.
The Problem With Proving Them Wrong
The problem with trying to prove everyone wrong, with trying to prove you are enough, is that until you feel enough, nothing will be enough.
For the person who doesn’t feel enough, no audience is big enough. No amount of income is enough. You’re forever on the treadmill in pursuit of more.
That pursuit will drain you, because it doesn’t end.
What if You Had Nothing to Prove?
What would you do if you weren’t trying to prove others wrong?
What would you do if you didn’t have to prove anything to anyone?
What would you do if you believed, in the depths of your soul, that you are enough?
What would motivate you?
What would fulfill you?
What would sustain you?
I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments.