I woke up this morning, fixed myself a beautifully green matcha latte and tuned in to last night’s Late Show on YouTube. Colbert’s long-time cameraman died last weekend. He was visibly broken up, and I was surprised when he said this man was such a treasure to him because “He believed in me”. I’m always taken aback when somebody who is very successful and talented is vulnerable enough to say that they, too, have cracks in their armor.
The first person I remember believing in me was my high school English Teacher, Lady Lester. I had other teachers, of course, who thought I was smart and bright, but believing in someone is much more than noticing a good trait. Even though I was struggling a bit as a kid, she knew I should go to college and encouraged me to think beyond my small town. She still believes in me because she keeps encouraging me to write a book. And, of course, I’m still that challenging kid who can’t or won’t get focused enough to do it. But she’s the nudge behind my efforts when I sign up for a writing class or start the never completed outline of my first book.
I was lucky enough in Memphis to get a pro bono session with an executive coach. My company was being acquired, and I knew my corporate role would probably disintegrate. I was trying to decide if I needed to wait it out or find another role. I told her I was really hesitating about moving on even thought I was sure I needed to financially.
“What is stopping you?” she asked.
I took a deep breath and admitted what was tripping me up. “Well I know that I’m okay at Accredo. I know the work. They like me. What if I get to a new place and I can’t cut it? What if they find out that I don’t know what I’m doing, and, even worse, I realize I don’t know what I’m doing?”
After a moment of silence, she said, “Every executive I’ve ever coached has said the exact same thing.”
We all need somebody to believe in us. Inside each of us is a little girl or boy who is afraid they are not going to be able to ride the bike or manage to support themselves or get through that big presentation at work. The ones that succeed have a stockpile of people behind them that believed in them. When we need to perform we are either crippled or held by the voices in our head. And those voices don’t come out of nowhere. They come from the people in our lives – those who believe in us or those who don’t.
Colbert’s cameraman repeatedly told him he believed in him. As he stared into that camera for years, he knew the guy behind it had his back. I have never forgotten the people who have believed in me. And as I’m buoyed over the years by their voices, mine has eventually joined the chorus. I’m disheartened by the criticism of our youth. They need our encouragement and belief so that they can believe in themselves. Our legacy – and our world – depends on it.
Who believed in you? How did they communicate this to you? Who do you believe in? How could you let them know?