Kevin Hogan

International Speaker

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Your Fear of Their Opinion – Defeat the Feelings of  Needing to “Feel Normal”

What is it that causes you to look at a group of people and feel like you want to meet their expectations of being “like them,” which to them, means “normal.”

Every person and group has a different definition of normal.

Let me tell you my personal definition.

“Normal” is the spectrum of behaviors that make up the middle 80% of all people.” This would include people with depression. If you suffer from depression you are absolutely normal. If you suffer from anxiety you are absolutely normal. If you got PTSD in a war or with another life experience, that is a normal reaction to the situation. If you are pretty good to your family you are normal. If yell at your kids you are normal. Anyone who tells you otherwise, in my estimation is wrong. Normal is typical. Normal does not mean good or bad. If you are a Republican or Democrat you are normal. (Really) If you are independent or libertarian you are definitely not normal.If you are gifted, are extremely beautiful, are pathological, have autism, have schizophrenia, are particularly kind, particularly loving, have a particularly low or high IQ, have a million dollar in assets…you are not normal.

Consider redefining normal to that definition for 30 days and try it on for size. If it fits, keep it. If it doesn’t simply return to the current definition you have.

But you want acceptance and other people don’t use that definition. Very few people do, in fact. And in fact, that is not normal.

Expectations however are different. If people expect you to conform to their rules, and you are in their house, or at their (or any)  place of business the majority of people would expect you to follow those societal rules and it then makes sense to conform. These expectations (rules) are different everywhere. When I lived off and on in Bulgaria (but not in restaurants, for example) I witnessed numerous arguments in grocery stores among customers. I was startled each time. And surprised. I’d never seen an argument between customers in my entire life of shopping in the U.S., U.K., or Poland for example.  And that behavior is not normal in Bulgaria either. It’s far less than 10% of the people, I saw get into these squabbles. It was less than 1% but of course you remember it quite well and each is it’s own story so it seems bigger.

You go to the store anywhere and you need to lean to the side of “normal.” And you want to do what most people expect of you in such a case. The same is true at the doctors office, at your kids school and so on. Normal or above normal behavior is expected and necessary. And in this case it is expected from the owners and customers/students/patients. It’s necessary.

If someone goes into a movie and sits in front of me, I expect them to keep their phone off during the movie. It’s expected and necessary for the context. If they keep it on for more than a minute I have no problem spilling popcorn.

Expectations are those rules others have as individuals or collectively. So if you want to be friend of Alex then you have to meet most of his most important rules. If you want to be in that group of people we were talking about you have to conform to their rules. If not, then you simply be pleased to know that you have different rules.

I eat a Kosher diet. Someone puts a  pork sausage on my pizza. I don’t eat it.  That’s one of my rules. (I didn’t come up with the rule, I simply adopted it.) It’s definitely not normal, yet it’s unimportant as to whether someone else is thinking something unkind about me.  My expectations of me in their environment and culture sometimes can uncomfortably fit together and sometimes they are oil and water. One has to go.

Expectations are best to tell people in advance.  When I’m invited for dinner, I tell that group, company, individual, so you know, “I’m Kosher. Is that cool?” If not I would politely decline. I don’t recall such an incident ever.

You MUST please (meet the expectations of) some people in life to achieve. Success almost requires a stable and supportive home life.  I’ve seen a few remarkable people succeed in spite of living in a Cold War with a spouse, but it’s rare.

You MUST heed the advice of a few, but very few people in life. Hand pick a personal consultant who has proven across the board expertise in blending personal relationships and business projects with their clients. Ask a 1 – 3  supportive but not “yes man” friends to be there when you need them.

On a larger scale, outside of personal relationships you can’t cave to social pressures that everyone else does. Predictors of succumbing to “the group” happen most often in social media, neighborhood, and at the office.  YOU need to intentionally determine whose opinions will influence your decisions and behaviors…and whose don’t. This is perhaps, the most important factor in success.

How do you know when you have actually chosen whose opinion matters?

“When I feel the ‘what will they think about me if I do that?'” the only people I can be influenced by are those you have previously chosen to meet their expectations.

For example, the people you have coffee with, the public at large, the people in the neighborhood, all have rules of some kind and if they matter, then you go with the group rules. If not, skip it.

Meanwhile, branding (being largely consistent across various spectrums) is all about meeting and exceeding the expectations of the proven behaviors you have created for your chosen market. Specifically, if you helped shape their expectations for the purpose of your achieving then you need to meet those expectations.

Humans hate to be rejected. They hate to be ostracized from the group. They hate to be talked about in a bad way. They  hate criticism. They worry about how they will “look” to others. Winning over your own everyday feelings, “they will look down on me if I do this…” (if they aren’t your market) simply need to be moved to the side.

Fact: If you want to achieve, you’ll often need to act against the opinions and verbalizations of the people you often consider to be closest to you.

“I wouldn’t do that.” That could be what they are thinking. The reason “they” think that is because THEY would not do something outside of the norm. And the norm doesn’t have much of a future.

You DO need to find a FEW specific people who will disagree with you, who will debate with you, who will bop you on the head when you do stupid stuff that you don’t recognize. They don’t make the final decisions in your life, but you must select these people to be in your life because you respect their opinion. Smart people, successful people, will often determine that “what I’m feeling is just that, a feeling, and I need to pay attention to the people I selected to be on my personal board of directors in my mind.”

There are some obvious criteria for selecting specifically who you will allow to influence or advise you.

1. Have they succeeded in your situation(s)? If not then the chances of their being helpful/right, is modest at best.

2. Realize that most friends and most families are made up of mostly humans. Humans are comfortable with YOU as long as YOU are NOT wealthier, better looking, stronger, happier than they are. That means people (most friends and family) want you to be JUST LIKE THEM. And if you decide you will listen to THOSE opinions you can stop before you begin, because you will fail and return to average.

3. You will SELECT real friends to be in your world. They want your success and happiness. They want to help you get there. You want them to point out possible obstacles. If you can’t explain to your friend HOW you will get past that obstacle, you probably should pick a new direction. Similarly if your friend tells you, “absolutely not!” then they should be able to tell you in short order what the specific danger of continuing is. If they can’t do that, they are speaking from fear.

Decisions based on negative emotions and feelings (anger, sadness, fear) rarely turn out well.

4. When two friends disagree with you, let them attempt rationally persuade you to their way of thinking. You should be able to both fully understand the logic (or lack of it) of their argument as well as counter their arguments and persuade them to be on the same page as you (because, remember, you’ve spent 100 hours or 1000 hours thinking and doing whatever it is they are concerned about).

5. Real friends will be happy when they are wrong because you have  done well. And you, will be happy to have had them as a friend because you had them on your team to do exactly what they did. Support through seeing problems you might not have.

Should you choose to hang out with other people who want to zen out, you are screwed. Support is important but far more important is being able to tell most of the world to go to hell while you go on your life journey that you have designed.

And your advisers, mentors and coaches don’t get paid to be sweet to you. They get paid (even if you aren’t paying them) to kick you in the butt, in a direction you’ve asked them to kick, even when you don’t feel like being kicked.

NOW you are on your way!

There is a monster-sized problem with the majority of success-minded individuals and the way they approach achievement, motivation and their individual goals and desired lifestyle.

If you are a person who dreams of success but find yourself wanting, wandering and wondering about what to do to achieve your desired outcomes and dreams OR if you keep “doing things” that do not produce the results you wish …

Your unspoken secret that is blocking your life journey is the fact that you care too much what people think about you.

That’s it.

End of story.


However, there’s more you should know …

Always remember, there are some people whose opinions NEED to matter to you.

The person who writes you your check.

The person who hires you.

You don’t live alone on the planet, but you sure don’t have to live in fear of other people’s opinion of you.

If you are held back by lack of (or timid) action, fear of failure or any other issue that may cause you embarrassment or fear of ridicule, then you have a problem with caring too much about the other person’s thoughts more than you care about success.

Think about your finances.

Do you give in to the “going out” when you know you don’t have the cash? Do you buy big expensive things like cars to make sure you don’t look like the “outsider” while all the while your money situation is totally out of control?

You care too much what others think.

What do you want?

  • Do you want to lose weight?
  • Do you dream of building wealth?
  • Do you desire a great relationship?
  • Are you trying to succeed by promotion in your career?

If you let the VALUE you place on the opinions of other people get in your way, you’ve screwed up big time and the fact is that until you see this, you won’t accomplish anything.

The solution to caring what others think is easier said than done. But there is a way within your mind that you can make it much more of a reality. And with some practice, you’ll be much more respected for your achievements.

Here are a few ways to stop caring too much about what others think.

1. Take a stand.

There’s an old saying that goes “If you don’t stand for something, then you’ll fall for anything”. That is one of the most profound statements that I have ever heard. The fact is if you don’t stand up for your convictions, your passions, you’ll wimp out and fold when you are challenged.

Take a stand.

Know why you take a stand.

Know your position on what you believe and know why you take that position.

Do NOT just believe something because you heard it somewhere and your friends seem to believe it. Taking a stand is more than being someone’s parrot.

Be an individual and you’ll make a powerful impression.

2. Take directed, continuous and big steps.

When you have firmly claimed your passions and convictions to the point you will fight for them no matter who differs in your opinion, you are ready to take massive action toward your goals, desires and dreams. The hardest part will be growing the backbone to stand up for your convictions (if you don’t have that type of personality). But once you have reached that point, it is extremely easy to take massive action toward your dreams.

In fact, no one will seriously get in your way.

You will find more people that are willing to help you get to where you want to go. Why?

Because you are living what you are meant to live. You are passionate about what you believe. You will indirectly command respect and you will eventually find a following. You will find a following because most people don’t know what they believe and they jump at the first opportunity to follow a passionate, firmly rooted, passionate individual. That is you.

3. Define Yourself.

You will not reach your destiny without being true to yourself.

You will not fulfill your destiny without knowing who you are.

The first step is to do just like you would if you wanted to master anything else.

You must practice. You must constantly be aware of who you are, what you are doing and why you choose to act or react in any given situation. Are you choosing your behavior or is it dictated by what others may think?

You must define yourself.

As Shakespeare said, “To Thine own Self be true.” If you’re not, there are difficult roads ahead to success.

And once you’re on the proverbial journey and MOVING, you’ll begin to build momentum.

4. Gain Momentum.

Athletes sometimes call it “the zone.”

Even some circles in the business world call it the zone. The zone is another way of expressing a feeling of what really is momentum.

Momentum can be described as a heavenly cloud that carries you floating to your desired goal. When you experience a success momentum, it will seem like nothing can go wrong, no matter what you do. It’s going DOWN hill with the wind at your back.

Have you ever known anyone like that?

(If you were not experiencing momentum at the time, there’s a good chance that person made you sick!…and don’t worry that’s human nature, too!)

The zone or momentum or whatever you want to call it is a state of mind. It’s a way of life. You must live there to be really successful in all areas of your life.

Okay. I know what you’re thinking.

How do you get there and stay there?

It depends.

Do you really believe it’s possible to achieve that kind of momentum? Or do you really believe that kind of success and momentum is for other people?

That is a REAL question. Think about it before giving the knee jerk answer.

Here are some questions you can answer to guide you toward that success momentum.

Answer them after, and only after, you really think about them …

Questions to Ask Yourself to Gain Momentum

  • What is your value?
  • Can you truly achieve success in life, business, relationships, etc.?
  • Do you believe in yourself enough to be able to carry out purpose-centered goals?

5. Develop a plan for a Positive Purpose and Drive for Momentum.

Use these questions to develop a sense of self first.

If you sincerely want to pursue a further momentum, you can do step six:

6. Set an “Action Accountability Force”.

This will be the force that you set up that holds you accountable.

Develop a set of actions that will force you to develop a success momentum. Find a partner that will hold you accountable.

This person will also be your cheerleader and, maybe even your coach. Before you know it, you’ll need that person less than when you start out.

But it’s a good idea to always have this kind of person on your team … forever … because momentum does stop and sometimes reverses itself … and, the fact is, other people can see a lot about you that you can’t see yourself.

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