Advice From A Great Man To The Occasionally Insecure

As much as I wanted to bring you the exciting conclusion to our saga on feedback today, sometimes my philanthropy gets in the way.

A friend of mine on Facebook (who I’ll leave anonymous) wrote:

What strategies do you use for learning about your craft from people who are better at it than you… without getting depressed about how much better at it they are than you?”

Now, as a reader of this blog you are obviously at the top of your chosen field, so your first reply to this person would be “You’re friends with Justice Gray on Facebook!?!?  Can you introduce me?”   First of all, don’t get that excited – being my Facebook friend is basically like reading these entries, only with several more photos of rare Transformers and discussions of limited edition breakfast cereal.  Second, this isn’t all about you!  Someone is hurting here, remember?

Getting back to Anonymous Warrior’s statement here, let’s split this into two parts:

  1. “What strategies do you use for learning about your craft from people who are better at it than you”
  2. “…without getting depressed about how much better at it they are than you?”

Here’s my first and most important piece of advice: the former is a great question, and the latter is a *terrible* one.  Most of you can stop reading here.  Feel free to contact me for my life coaching rates.

Next piece of advice: learning from other people is awesome.  Learning should be inspiring, engaging, and moving. If you are sitting in a bathtub eating a mixture of cookie batter and your tears after learning from someone, I am very confident that you are doing the learning thing wrong.

He looks happy, but he's dead inside.  Trust me.
He looks happy, but he’s dead inside. Trust me.

Here’s a question: when you get depressed about how much better someone is at something than you are…who does it help?  It doesn’t help you get better at *anything* (except maybe weeping quietly).  It doesn’t help the person who is better at that something.

And if that person is actually taking their valuable time to teach you, I might even argue that it’s a disservice to that person and the time they have spent.  You’re rewarding their efforts with what…angst?!  Reward them by showing up, by being grateful, and – while I don’t want to sound too Vancouver pet psychic here – by enjoying the journey.

I don’t want to give you the whole “blah blah just be yourself” trust exercise BS you’ll see when people want to encourage the mediocre.  Maybe who you are *is* terrible!  Maybe you’re a walking failure!  Maybe you shouldn’t be happy with who you are!  I doubt it.  For one thing, you’re reading this article, which is already the hallmark of successful people!

But if you are unhappy with who you are, be unhappy because you know you can do better than who you are right now, not because you want to be like someone else.  Don’t make your goal to be the next Steve Jobs/Dwayne Johnson/Justice Gray.  Keep a poster of them under your bed to keep you feeling safe and loved at night, sure.  But make your goals bigger than trying to be like someone else.  That’s the problem with this question – it still makes your end goal being like someone else.

Be a better you instead.  It’s a greater goal.

(Unless you could be me.  But you can’t.  So being you is still pretty good.)