Earlier this week, one of my clients came to our coaching call wanting to focus on getting the word out about her newly formed consultancy. She knew what she had to do to “get out there” and let people know that she had set up and central to her strategy was to use social media.
But something was stopping her. She was worried about what “some people” might think of her if she dared to publicise her new venture.
“I see other people making updates on social media about what they are doing with their business. And I know I have to be visible. But I know that there will be certain members of my family and some of my old friends who will think ‘Who does she think she is?’”
This is not an uncommon reason for us not achieving our goals. In order to start a business or achieve something even slightly out of the ordinary, we have to raise our head above the parapet – and someone may shoot!
In fact, so common is this fear that there is a name for it – Tall Poppy Syndrome. Tall poppies that raise their beautiful heads to the sun risk being cut down.
The fact is, there WILL be people who bitch and take a swipe (and usually behind your back) when you try to achieve something that means you being visible. Whether it’s the local schoolyard mafia, a specific clique of ‘friends’ or your own family. Sometimes, people are just like that! But it doesn’t mean that you should stay hidden in a dark ‘safe’ space and never stretch towards the sun.
7 Ways To Combat Tall Poppy Syndrome
Here are 7 ways to combat tall poppy syndrome, so that you can go for your goals even though there will be those who are saying “Who does she think she is?”:
- What is their problem?
You know this already, but it’s worth starting with this point, as it really is at the heart of the matter. Think about the people who are trying to cut you down to size (or who you believe may be trying to cut you down). Why might they feel the need to do that? Is it a habit they are in? Are they the sort of person who stretches out of their comfort zone? Or do they like the safety of the pack? Let’s face it, the kind of people who are nasty about other people trying to reach for their goals are generally the kind of people who are stuck in a life of sameness. It really is their problem. You don’t want to be like them and you aren’t like them. Feel pity for them, tall poppy!
- What stories are you telling yourself?
Frequently, we create stories about what people MIGHT be saying or MIGHT be thinking. And more often than not, that’s just what they are – stories. Remember that your mind monkey is not an accurate representation of reality. It’s just your crazy mind. Step back, look at the story you’ve created and learn to create new, better, more empowering stories. It takes continuous practice, but the more you practise the easier it gets to tell yourself better stories.
- Who are your cheerleaders and heroes?
We all have them – whether they are friends, mentors, famous people or supportive family members. What would they say about what you are trying to achieve in your life? You know exactly what they’d say: “Go for it, girl and don’t let anyone stop you”. It’s always a useful exercise to think of someone who appears fearless and ask yourself “What would she do/say in this situation?” Even better, why not pick up the phone now and ask them?
- Collect positive strokes from your supporters
Our human brains retain the negative put downs we hear far more easily than we retain the positive strokes. So you need to record the positive strokes so you can take them out and read them when you need the boost. If you are working on a big goal in your life, you will inevitably have ups and downs, so collecting the positive strokes from those who believe in you will help to buoy you during the down times. I have a folder in my email inbox called “Champagne moments” for just this reason! Whenever someone sends me an email to say thank you for the work I do, it goes in there. And when I get the wobbles about “what will people think of me if I blog about this?” I go back to the champagne moments folder and read some of the emails from people who have benefited from me posting that blog!
- Create boundaries
It’s actually NOT OK for people to say things to you that are intended to put you down, cut you down and make you feel small. Assert yourself and tell them it’s not ok. Don’t put up with this sh1t. Why should you? Decide that you will not accept bullying behaviour and state it in assertive terms. Look, my 11 year old son did this last week. A friend was saying nasty things about him behind his back (along the lines of “I’m only friends with Max because I have to be. I’m going to dump him in high school”). To his eternal credit, Max dealt with this in a way that any adult would be proud of, let alone a child. He said to the boy in question: “I want to be friends with you, but you are making it very difficult for me. So I would appreciate it if you would be nicer so that we can be friends”. It did the trick, at least for now. My point is this – if an 11 year old boy can create boundaries and state what is unacceptable behaviour, so can you!
- Consider the alternative
So, what if you took notice of the poppy slayers and you stayed in a nice safe, boring life of existence rather than one of thriving? What if you decide to live your life so that you NEVER get gossiped about and so that you never rock the boat? Would that make you happy and proud of yourself? No, of course it wouldn’t. Is that the kind of role model you want to be for your children? Of course it isn’t. You’re far to big and far too special to live an ordinary life. Go shine!
- Get a good coach
I believe that investing in a good coach is one of the best investments you can make in life. I invest heavily in myself by having my own coaches (yes, more than one!)Of course “She would say that wouldn’t she”. And I wonder if there are any thinking “Who does she think she is, having the audacity to suggest I hire her?” LoL! I became a coach because I experienced first-hand the transformation in my own life. And any transformation of our lives comes about by an internal shift. We get in our own way and a masterful coach can get you OUT of your own way FAST, rather than you wasting years and years not quite getting out of the dark, safe hole. A good coach will support you come hell or high water; she will hold up a mirror so that you can see clearly just how great you are and she will give you a good old kick up the backside to catapult you beyond the poppy slayers!
Note: Poppy Field by Martin Birkin