External Validation May Be Holding You Back

I passed!

So I went for my learners test for my motorcycle license during the week. I only really got stuck towards the end, trying to figure out what those two extra pedals where on the sketch of the motorcycle were for (see I’ve been practicing on an automatic scooter that doesn’t have those pedals…). But through the process of elimination and trying to remember many years ago when I drove an offroad bike, I was able to get the least amount of answers incorrectly, in order to pass… shew was I glad…

When I didn’t pass…

This reminds me of trying to get my drivers licence, which took 5 attempts and 3 different traffic departments. It’s not that I didn’t know how to drive, but made an unfortunate mistake on my first attempt, that set me up for a string of lazy errors in the following attempts.

But on receiving my licence, it somehow gave me the idea that I was now able to drive. Not that I wasn’t able to drive before that. If anything, I’d had a ton of practice, but that little piece of plastic covered paper with my photo on it, somehow gave me a sense of validation. That I was good enough to drive.

Looking outside of ourselves for answers

In life we tend to rely on these external ideas of validation that we are either good enough or not. Have what it takes or not.

While working my way through high school, the ‘gold’ standard was to pass grade 12 with A’s and an admission to university. And if you didn’t get that, then much of what follows is less than desired. But I’m sure you’ll agree, looking back on that now, one would say that is total nonsense. There are many individuals that have either not received admission to university, achieved a long list of A’s, or even passed high school. Some of those people live both impactful and successful lives, both in the financial sense as well as in the happiness sense…

The same thinking seems to continue with us as we try to achieve a certain level of education. Whether that is a diploma, degree or PhD. That unless we achieve a certain level of ‘qualification’, we are not good enough to achieve a certain level of success or impact in life.

Now there are certain instances where this is certainly necessary. Doctors, engineers, pilots and another long list of professions, where they directly or indirectly affect peoples lives. Literally life or death.

Stop looking for your next validation ‘hit’

As it relates to personal endevours, being able to learn new skills in order to improve oneself, or even one’s own business, there are a lot of people that still use this line of thinking. That in order to validate their effectiveness as a ‘marketer’, ‘business owner’ or fill-in-the-blank, they need to have the qualifications. The piece of paper that has been signed off by someone else, telling us that we are now good enough to do what we desire.

What I’m trying to get at here, is that if your desire is to start your own business that offers value to other people’s lives, you don’t need a piece of paper to validate whether or not you are good enough to do so. There are tons of people in the world that have a long list of qualifications behind their name, but have achieved little. Then there are tons of people that have very little qualifications behind their names, but have achieved great things.

I am not saying that you don’t need to know much about a topic in order to become successful. If anything, this is the opposite. But you don’t always need a formal education and external validation before you can get started.

We live in a world where information is bountiful and easily accessible. If anything, a lot of the information you find within educational textbooks, can be found on the internet for free. You just need to find it…

How it really works out there

I’ve heard of many industries, that when a newly ‘qualified’ recruit starts working, they’re told to ‘forget everything they’ve learnt’ or ‘their real education only really starts now’.

Whether you have the qualification and the knowledge or just the knowledge, when you start to apply it, you’re mostly going to get it wrong anyway. Someone without the qualification may invalidate themselves by saying they’re over their heads and out of their field, even though they have the basic understanding required to progress and succeed within that field. The person that has the qualification will also struggle, but that piece of paper that someone else put their stamp of approval on, will give them the validation to stick to it and continue.

What’s lacking is not knowledge or understanding, but the external validation that so many of us require and even yearn for. But this just leaves us at the mercy of other peoples rules, standards and opinions (most of the time).

Cut the umbilical cord of validation

Stop relying on the validation of others, before you start something that drives and motivates you. Whether that’s to start your own business, change businesses or start something on the side. Get the required knowledge (which is mostly freely available), find someone else that is successful in that arena (to learn the shortcuts or avoid pitfalls) and then do what needs to be done in order to get what you want.



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About The Author

Neil Scholtz

Neil Scholtz is a certified Personal Trainer turned CrossFit coach. He has competed at the CrossFit Games and coached athletes that have competed at the CrossFit Games, but that's not his main focus. Most of his time is spent consulting or coaching individuals to improve their lives through fitness. He has worked with over 1000 individuals from various walks of life. Tailoring solutions to their lifestyle needs.

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