How To Prove Yourself When No One Will Believe You
In 2012, I worked in the same company as Amit—an affable guy, intelligent and competent. He had just been put on a project without prior training.
It was tough for Amit to find his way. For each good day, he would have three bad ones. He barely got help from others because anyone he reached out to was busy with their own work.
Eventually, the project went belly-up. Amit’s manager pulled him into an empty room and screamed, “What the f**k have you done, you dumb f**k!”
Amit tried to explain. He hadn’t got time to build the necessary skills, he didn’t get the support he needed. He also said he learned from his mistakes and believed he could do better the next time around.
But his manager would have none of it. In fact, things got worse.
Amit’s teammates would stare at him as if he’d committed a crime. His name was removed from the team that had been assigned a big upcoming project. In hushed tones, people gossiped that he would get fired soon. And his manager’s attitude was colder than my ex’s heart.
For the next month, Amit worked in silence. He rarely smiled or mingled with people. We had no idea what he was up to, he just kept working with the clients he had been assigned.
Two months later, we saw an unexpected turnaround. Amit had done such good work with a client that they renewed their contract three months before it was up. Then another client praised him for his work which saved them time and money. In the same quarter, Amit won the Star Performer Award.
Suddenly, the criticism and backbiting stopped, and congratulations and praise replaced it. His manager said, “I never stopped believing in you!”
One day, Amit and I had some free time, so we got chatting. I asked how he had turned things around so dramatically.
“My first reaction was to leave the company,” Amit confessed. “I’ve failed many times in life, but this was the first time I felt like a loser.”
“Why didn’t you?”, I asked.
“That would’ve fueled the notion that I was a coward who fled when the going got tough,” he replied. “I couldn’t shrug responsibility; I had to fix this.”
“How did you fix it?”, I asked. “What was going through your mind?”
“I decided I wouldn’t defend or justify myself; I would just focus on getting the job done. I’d learned from my mistakes, so I could overcome hurdles faster. It might appear as if it all happened overnight, but in reality, the results took time to become visible. And those results spoke louder than my words when I was trying to justify myself.
“In the process, I learned an important lesson: When you have to prove your worth, do it through your actions rather than your words.”
Talk Is Cheap, Action Is Priceless
Each of us craves recognition and appreciation.
You want your partner, child, parents, managers, and peers to show how much you mean to them. Especially during tough times. When all is fine, everyone says nice things. When things get tough, though, you yearn for support and understanding.
But human memory doesn’t work the way we hope. Most people don’t remember the good things you said or did when you hit a rough patch. Or they just don’t care. You’ll also encounter a few people who kick you when you’re down. It’s rare to find a hand that offers to lift you up.
If you try and defend yourself, your words will fall on deaf ears. Or they’ll reinforce the notions people have already built of you.
You can’t change people’s perception of you through your words. You can only change it through action, by achieving what your critics and doubters said you couldn’t.
When you get hit by a shitstorm, it’s natural to blame the environment or talk about how difficult things are. It’s tough to work in silence to find your way out. But the actions that push you outside your comfort zone are also the ones that help you grow.
Every hurdle is an opportunity to emerge stronger on the other side, and to become a stronger person. Don’t worry about failure —you won’t fail until you don’t give up.
“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills.” — Ernest Hemingway
Amit didn’t wait for a hero to rescue him. he became one for himself. You can do the same.
Pick yourself up by the bootlaces. If it matters to you, give it everything you’ve got. Reaching your goal is secondary, you should prioritize giving it your all. This way, you’ll feel proud regardless of the outcome, and you’ll know your true worth regardless of what the world thinks.
When you have to prove your worth, do it through your actions rather than your words. Talk is cheap; actions are priceless.
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