My girlfriend, Jacq and I went to see Moneyball last night (and I highly recommend that you see it- it’s not really a movie about baseball). One of several lessons and insights that I got from the movie was that, when you know with all your heart that you’re working according to your own plan, that you don’t need outside validation. This resonated with me. Your loudest voice, in support of you, must always come from within.
External Voices Can Be difficult
Let me set the stage a little.
In the movie, Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A’s, and in this specific season, he’s been dealt some tough cards. Three of his biggest “star” players have been taken by other teams. He’s got one of the smallest budgets in baseball, and yet, he has to do something to turn the team’s fortunes around.
Enter Jonah Hill playing Peter Brand, a statistical genius with a degree from Yale and with no previous experience in baseball. He works with Beane to figure out some statistical models that point to a way to do better with a very limited budget. It runs completely against what everyone else in baseball believes to be true. (This story, by the way, is based on a true story. This is the book: Moneyball – amazon affiliate link).
Art Howe is the manager, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, who has to make something out of the team that Beane and Brand have put together. Only, he doesn’t like what he sees, and so he fights against the changes. This leads to the A’s falling into last place early, and with that comes tons and tons of bad press, anger, and frustration.
Everyone is yelling. The press says they’re wrong. Their families and friends don’t see it. The players don’t quite get it yet. No one is on their side.
Your Loudest Voice is Valuable
But Beane and Brand get it. They believe it. Billy Beane is all-in from the very beginning of the concept, trusting Peter Brand with his future by believing that Brand’s modeling holds the key to what comes next. But they are the only two who believe, at least for quite some time.
The voice you should believe in the most is the one inside of you. No one outside of you should ever be able to drown out the belief you feel inside. If you’ve locked into a solid conviction about your path, your goal, your view of the universe, then believe in it, and make your voice the loudest, inside of you.
Critics Come and Go
Critics attack unique thinking. Critics attack anything that threatens the status quo. Critics quite often attack that which seems to simplified, explaining how everything is complex and can’t possibly be boiled down to something simple.
Critics also come from their own perspective, see things as part of a larger tapestry of the past, and rarely understand innovative thought when they see it.
Be Willing to Learn, but Believe in Yourself
I’m not saying that you should close out any kind of external insights, but what I am saying is that there will be many (not a few, but many) times when you’ll feel that you’ve faltered based on some external advice. Believe in you. Believe in you hard. Be willing to absorb other people’s thoughts, but weigh them against your voice being the loudest, at least in areas where you have the strongest of convictions.
And that’s the little kicker.
Be Willing to Be Silent and Listen
In all areas where you don’t have strong conviction, be willing to be silent and listen. Learn from those around you. Absorb what you can. Listen and observe and see what there is to know. Because in those areas where you’re not sure beyond belief that you’ve got the right idea, or at least the idea you’re going to pursue with fierce self-belief, then you can afford to wait, be silent, and see what comes from the world around you.
What Say You?
Does this resonate? Have you had those moments where everyone outside of you said you were wrong, but you still knew you were on the right path? Have you ever succumbed to the voices outside of you? (My answer to this is yes far more often than I wish, but I’m working on that now.) And how do you know when to listen to your loudest voice versus be willing to be silent and open?