Melting the Need for Validation
It's the New Year and I am in PUSH mode. I don't know why, but at the turn of every year there is this unspoken pressure and anxiousness about having goals and meeting goals. Last year I filmed a special and this year I need to SELL the special. Last year I had a full calendar and this year I need EVEN MORE!!! MARKETING, DO MORE MARKETING!!! But do I need to? Really? Even if I do... do I need to do it ALL right now?
This morning as I walked home from my weekly Bible Study with my father-in-law I took notice of the melting snow. It had been SOOO pretty with the sparkling ice and snow covering everything, but now it is raining and the gravel and the mud are exposed and mixing with the slushy goop and it's GROSS. That said, it had been so cold and my appreciation for the beauty was from inside. Even though the facade of perfection is gone, I am outside and it's warmer and the birds are singing and Spring feels much closer than it did a week ago. Even though the melt exposes the mess, the melt is good. Today my gross ravenous appetite for validation is exposed, but it's also melting along with the stress.
The idea that we require validation for our efforts is a cancer. To make money, to get booked, to build a following, to win... these are all empty pursuits. It has the potential to snuff the life out of your talent and opportunity and relationships. If I am asking “what’s in it for me?”, I clearly do not love what I am doing or care so much about those for whom I am doing it.
A comedian tells a joke and waits for the audience to laugh? Nothing. What now? Sure, the main point of performing comedy is to make your audience laugh, but will you tell the audience that they are wrong or will you make a note to figure out why? Maybe you rushed it? Maybe they didn’t get the context or the premise... are you a big city boy in a rural bar asking what brand of skinny jeans they prefer? Or hey, maybe it wasn’t funny. I’m not funny a lot of the time. It’s okay.
The audience does not exist to make me feel good. I exist to make the audience laugh. Leland Klassen was the first one to articulate that for me. It is a subtle mind shift, but has a massive impact on your energy on and off of stage.
If your goal is to serve, your peace comes from knowing that you gave it your all and your subsequent motivation comes from knowing that you can improve the audience’s experience at the next go around. We are there for them, not the other way around.
In today's study of Luke 4, we see the devil tempting Jesus to accept the immediate gratification of power and the validation of God's concern for him. "Jump off the temple and watch God send his angels to rescue you." Jesus says "Nope" and continues His ministry in obedience. In the subsequent verses he tells a group of religious dudes that God chose to do a miracle for a Syrian and not a Jew and they lost their sh@!. (FYI - religious people tend to be sensitive) They tried to throw him off of a CLIFF! (FYI - I love seeing my name in Scripture). And then what happens? God understatedly rescues him. Jesus just walks through the angry mob unharmed. Jesus didn't need to jump off the top of a building to experience God's concern for Him. Choose to serve first and the validation you need will most likely make its way to you.
This is applicable to all the things. Rejection and failure are innevitable in any context, so your “why” has got to go beyond personal validation. Choose service from a sincere heart and I believe you will find peace. I believe personal validation (aka - meeting your own objectives) is the by-product of putting the needs and objectives of others before your own. Also, I wanted to say "chill out on the marketing, Cliff", but then my seemingly disconnected 'melting' metaphor will be further compromised. Anyway, Happy New Year... it's gonna be good.
PS - please watch my special and/or hire me, but if you don't I'll be okay. Promise.