After what feels like forever, it is finally time for the conclusion to my post on what I have learned during my first six months of Roll Models. So, I won’t waste any more time rambling on here, and just get right to it.
We are taught growing up as kids to be nice and polite as much as possible. We learn the societal norms of faking a smile, courteously agreeing with people on things that don’t matter much, and holding back our opinions if they disagree with the group. All of these behaviors are designed to avoid conflict and promote harmony, which I am completely in favor of, but not at the expense of our free will and individuality. As a recovering “people pleaser,” I spent a large part of my life working to avoid disagreement at all costs and focusing on making everyone else feel happy and comfortable. While this made me extremely likeable and popular, it didn’t make me happy, because I was not being true to myself. I have spent a lot of time reflecting upon and thinking about how to strike the best balance between being true and sincere to myself and being respectful of others opinions. Even though I have been applying this concept to my life for many years now, I was reminded of the importance of being authentic almost immediately after starting my blog and Roll Models.
Early on as I was writing posts and preparing material for my talks, I was constantly worrying about saying the wrong thing, giving an opinion that people would not like, and being too subjective and emotional in my writing. So I would try really hard to be objective and curb my opinions to try to please the most people. I quickly found though, that the stories and anecdotes that people connected with most were not the most factual ones, but the ones that I was the most sincere and emotional in my descriptions. People didn’t want to read or hear about some objective reality with a bunch of facts that they could easily find on Wikipedia. They wanted to hear about my subjective view of the world. People wanted to read about me, about my life. I realized that by being sincere and authentic in my words that I could create a strong connection with others. By sharing this raw truth and emotion a bond is formed between my audience and I, and my message becomes much more powerful. While this is crucial in being an effective writer and speaker, this lesson in authenticity is just as applicable and important in life. You have to be sure to be true to who you are and what you believe, even if that means disagreeing at times. So long as you voice your opinions respectfully, this will go a long way in helping you from stronger, healthier, and happier relationships.
- We all have a story to share.
When I was first starting out with www.scottdrotar.com and speaking, I kept having the same thought pop into my head, “Who would want to hear about me? What have I done that is so special?” I honestly thought that after I wrote for a few weeks or so, that people would get bored with reading about the life of a disabled guy from a small town who had a relatively “normal” life, and that my little adventure with Roll Models would be over. I just didn’t think that I had a life story that was worth sharing. As I got comments and feedback over the first few weeks of blogging though, I discovered that it was not the actual events from my life that were interesting to people, but how I felt and overcame these events. People wanted to hear about the emotional experience behind the story, the story inside my head. Because while they may or may not be able to relate to the actual events in any given post I write, everyone can understand the common emotions of fear, love, anger, and happiness. This is the common bond that connects reader and author, and it is my discussions about these feelings that make my life story interesting.
This is not something unique to me or my life either, as we all have these feelings throughout our lives. We all have a unique story to share with others and knowledge to pass on from our experiences. While I am not saying that everyone should spill their life story to the world or could become a professional speaker, I do think that you should remember that your story has just as much value as mine or anyone else’s. If you are given the opportunity to share some of your worldly wisdom with a friend or family member, take advantage of it and pass on your knowledge. You will be amazed at how much people appreciate getting honest, sincere advice. In addition to sharing your thoughts and experiences to help others, by taking the time to think about where you have been, what you have done, and what you have learned throughout your life, you will recall and remember things that can bring you a lot of happiness. By thinking about old memories, you will be reminded of the life lessons that they taught you, and by looking back on these moments as an adult you may even gain additional insight and learn something new. You will also gain a better understanding of what and who are most important to you. The greatest benefit however, is that by valuing your life story, you will gain a better understanding and appreciation for yourself, which will allow you to find more happiness and success in your life.
- Keep Failing.
One of the biggest, most well kept secrets to being successful and achieving something great is to keep failing. Society teaches us that failure is something to be feared and avoided at all costs as if it is some deadly sin, and to look back on our mistakes with feelings of regret and shame, but it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, you will be much more successful in life if you learn to not fear failure, but to embrace it as a stepping stone to use in accomplishing your goals. By adopting this mindset, and developing the necessary tools to be a “successful failure,” you won’t be afraid to set the bar a little higher and try to achieve something great out of fear that you might fail along the way. This is something that I was quickly reminded of as I was starting Roll Models and my blog, as I worked to develop my skills in this new profession.
When I first started speaking, I will be the first to admit that although I faked it well, I really had no idea what I was doing. I had at best average writing skills and next to no experience with this type of speaking, but I did have a big dream to achieve something great by helping people with my story. So, I was willing to accept that I would probably fail sometimes along the way, but I was going to give everything I had to accomplish my goal. Now, I certainly had some bumps in the road on my journey to success, like when I messed up a character’s name in my second talk (utterly confusing my audience) and when I ran way too long at a talk and had to leave a story out, but every time I failed I found a way to make my way through it. Every one of these failures taught me some new lesson that I now can apply to all of my future Roll Models talks. And thanks to my propensity for failure (as well as my desire to read every book about speaking that I can get my hands on), I now am proud to say that I am a very good professional speaker and have achieved my goals. These same ideas that helped me succeed in becoming a successful speaker and blogger can easily be applied to any part of your life. All you need is a desire to do something great, the courage to face your failures, and the humility to learn from your mistakes, and you will be able to accomplish nearly any goal you set your mind too.
- Never stop improving.
It is very easy sometimes, after you achieve a major goal in your life, to get caught in what I call the “snare of success.” The “snare of success” is the mentality you get after accomplishing something, and you start thinking that you have worked hard enough, you have all the skills, and you can just coast along now that you have been successful. Basically, it is an excuse to be lazy and accept that the status quo is good enough. While I am all for rewarding success and taking a break sometimes, I think that this is a trap that many people get caught in at times throughout their lives. It is vital to constantly be trying to better yourself in some way. This is important in maintaining your physical and mental health, forming and maintaining strong relationships, and creating the happiness and success in your life. I was temporarily caught in the “snare of success” a few months after starting Roll Models.
After my first three months of speaking and writing for Roll Models, I finally started feeling comfortable with my abilities as a storyteller. This was a good thing because it gave me confidence in my blog posts and skills on stage, but it also had a downside. This feeling of comfort brought with it a feeling of complacency. I started thinking that I had acquired all of the necessary skills to be a good speaker and blogger, and that I didn’t need to work so hard to cultivate my abilities and hone my craft. I had learned a lot and achieved some success, and I was now able to help people with my words, so I was “good enough.” That is one of those phrases that should always warn you that something might be amiss, “good enough.” “Good enough” means you know you could do better, you could do something great, but you are fine settling for less because it is too much more work. Don’t get caught in this “snare of success.” Never stop trying to improve yourself or the world around you. Don’t settle for good, when you know that you have the ability to have something great. Whether it is eating better, learning a new language, or taking up mountain climbing, you should always be working to better yourself. This will not just allow you to help and better the lives of others as you share your skills with the world, but it will also bring more happiness, success, and fulfilling experiences to your life.
These eight life lessons have been incredibly valuable in my success with Roll Models, as well as in my life as a whole. It is so critical as we travel through life and start new endeavors to take the time to notice the life lessons we are being reminded of (or possibly taught for the first time). Like anything else in life, “if you don’t use it, you lose it,” which is why it is so important to practice these life skills and acknowledge them when life presents them to us. You will be shocked at the things life will teach you, if you are in the moment and willing to listen. Don’t be so busy working to achieve your goals, that you don’t take the time to obtain the tools you need to get there.
I am so proud and feel extremely fortunate that I have achieved so much success in my first six months with Roll Models. I am glad that I have been able to share my life experiences to help others, and that I can pay my bills doing something I love and have a passion for. I am thankful for all of the incredible people I have met, the new experiences I have gotten, and the lessons I have learned as a result of this quest to tell my stories through Roll Models. It has been a fun, entertaining, and insightful journey thus far, and I have no doubt that the next six months will be just as special, if not more so. I hope you will continue to accompany me on this adventure and encourage me to achieve great things.