Objective validation that you’re awesome

April 9, 2008 by Jared Goralnick


Being a rockstar is a damn good use of your time. Many struggle to find their career path, and others advise something like, “don’t settle: do something where you’re happy.” But what could be more elusive than happiness? I suggest that you surround yourself with objective validation that you’re awesome. Then you’ll feel like a rockstar.

I was trying to pinpoint why yesterday was such a good day. I knew it had to do with helping out a new friend. So I asked Elizabeth, who has been thinking through big picture career decisions, of the last time she helped someone. We wandered down the tangent of volunteering and she made the point that she had enjoyed SAT tutoring much more than ladling soup; even though the former took much more work, she was more uniquely qualified to tutor (anyone can pour soup, not everyone can teach trigonometry). Even more, she watched the students grow a great deal from her weekly sessions. Similarly, my highlight from yesterday was offering advice that I don’t think just anyone could’ve provided.

approval_guy1Both of us had found a place where we could shine for what we were good at. But there’s more to it–our skills had been validated by new people. It wasn’t a coworker or boss offering praise–we’re used to that. It was people outside our regular spheres of influence.

Think of the last time a family member or significant other complimented your outfit. It was nice, but not unusual. However, when someone on the subway (hopefully well-dressed) genuinely tells you how much they dig your jacket that really hits you.

So let’s put those two thoughts together:

  1. Doing what you feel you’re uniquely qualified for is a good use of time
  2. Validation from someone qualified to judge, but who’s not required to, is rewarding

When I told Elizabeth how much I enjoyed helping this friend, who I already respected for his involvement in similar fields, she pointed out that it’s like receiving objective validation that you’re awesome.

Maybe this is just a formula for feeling that you’re special: do something you’re good at and find people who will appreciate it. But consider that the more uniquely qualified you are and the more objective (qualified to judge, but not required to) the receiving party…the greater the reward.

I hope that this will give some clarity to your thoughts about where to spend your time…so you too can feel like a rockstar. If you aren’t finding this sort of validation, think hard about ways to seek it out. (BONUS: compliment someone randomly and help make their day…even if it’s something small.)

Have you had similar experiences to mine or Elizabeth’s? Any advice for the readers here on how to find those experiences?

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Photo credits: Rev Dan Catt and Bert Heymans

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  1. Jared Goralnick

    Interestingly, this has been the blog topic I’ve had the most email responses to and the fewest (0) comments about. I wonder if that’s just people agree but they’re not getting that objective validation in their own lives. Alas…

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