Ms. Dismissed – A few thoughts on how to handle people who dare to doubt your greatness.
A few situations exist that make me full-on, lock the doors, hide your children, mental. These include such tragedies as washing your hands with a long sleeve shirt on only to have the water migrate down your arm, inside your sleeves, as you lift your hands to dry and leave the inside of your shirt sleeves wet.
Another among these is also dropping a new full compact of makeup leaving a rather expensive pile of dust; picking the wrong line at the grocery store; finally needing to use a Sharpie marker only to find it dried up worse than MC Hammer, and anytime a large strange dog decides it’s nose belongs in my crotch.
But among these travesties exists the terror of all terrors, being discounted—by anyone.
I don’t mean “discounted” as in you’re hanging on a clearance rack marked an additional 40% off. I mean as in when someone believes that you, your experience, your intelligence, don’t mean diddly.
Written off, in other words.
I’ve had to deal with the latter to greater degrees of late. And I’m here to tell you, I don’t like it. Not one little bit. I realize it may be one of those pesky facts of life. Like not being able to remove a full, intact piece from the homemade apple pie, essentially turning it into a cobbler, unless you are Martha friggin’ Stewart.
I’ve put a great deal of thought into this and I can’t help you with the pie, you’re doomed to eating cobbler the rest of your life, but I can help with the feeling of being dismissed.
1. Realize your value isn’t tied up in someone else’s ability to view your contribution as worthy.
This is tricky. I think as humans we want our intelligence and life’s experience to count for something. The problem is when we seek that validation for such from sources outside of ourselves. We’d love for those around us to seek us out for the contribution we can make on any given day. Most people would rather hear themselves talk and also position themselves, in their minds, above you.
What do you know anyway?
I’ve come to the conclusion this is why old people are cranky. They’ve stormed the beaches of Normandy for God and Country for Pete’s sake but now some punk is jumping up and down screaming for a safe space.
I don’t think there were any safe spaces on the beaches of Normandy. It was a big deal. They want the rest of us who have come after to know it was a big deal.
I babysat my Dad this weekend who had a stroke over 10 years ago. My sister, who is a flipping saint among saints, cares for him the rest of the time. When I hang out with him, he tells me the same story over and over again.
He tells me about the time he had the opportunity to fly in on a Navy jet and land on an aircraft carrier. My dad wasn’t in the military, so it was a BFD that he had the chance to land and take off on an aircraft carrier. Google it if you want to see what a gnarly experience it can be. He even shared that one of his greatest regrets was not joining the military when he was young but the Vietnam war was going on, he said, and he knew if he joined they would make him fly helicopters. He said the life expectancy of a helicopter pilot in Vietnam wasn’t a long one. (This is the first time I’ve ever heard why he didn’t join the military because he’s had a lifelong love affair with it.)
2. If you want to be heard, then freaking be heard.
In 1985, Steve Jobs was forced out of Apple. I think many people forget that part of his story. However, as you know, that didn’t stop him. He went on to found NeXT, a computer platform development company. By 1997, the struggling Apple needed a good operating system to compete with Windows, and guess who had one? Apple acquired NeXT for 427 million dollars and the rest…well, you know.
I love this quote from Steve Jobs on the whole being dismissed from Apple after the CEO at the time supported running with their previously successful Apple II while Jobs wanted to move forward with the whole “Macintosh” thing.
I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
Others do not hold you back. Only you can do that. If someone dismisses you, or even puts roadblocks in your way, perseverance alone has the potential to clear the path. Steve Jobs mentioned that as well. You have something to contribute. Others won’t always see that and it should never deter you from your goals.
3. Surround yourself with those who see your value–as best you can.
Numbers 2 and 3 are a lot like the Serenity prayer. Number 2 is having the courage to change the things you can. Number 3 is letting go of the things you have no control over.
There are always going to be people who think they are better than you. There’s always going to be people writing you off because you’re too young, too old, too goofy, etc. But I believe everyone has something amazing to contribute. The second trick is to not let the bastards get you down.
Other than those with whom you have no choice but to be around, be very careful in selecting those you allow in your inner circle. I believe in having a team of champions closest to me. It’s amazing what it does for my heart and my soul. Being around people who believe you can leap tall buildings in a single bound, helps you believe it too. Sometimes I think we know we are capable of such feats, as we should, but the reminders from those around us help to give us the courage we need.
Like Mark Twain once said, “Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
I hate being sold short and I hate being treated like an idiot honestly more than anything, except maybe the water up the sleeve thing. I’m not an idiot even though I have the full capability of acting like one. Like everyone else on this planet, I have gifts, talents, know-how, and the potential to do great things. Whether others recognize that or not, is their loss or gain.