When They Expect You to Fail

Life would be much easier if everyone around us wants us to be successful.

One of the harshest realities that I’ve had to face as a leader is the discovery that people who I viewed as supporters were actually anticipating my failure. Subsequently, some of the greatest character-building lessons that I’ve learned are how to deal with this type of disappointment.

Here are my top five:

1. DON’T villainize the people that underestimate you. Even though it may feel like these persons are plotting your downfall (which could be true), villainizing them will distract you and rob you of the positive energy that can propel you forward. Also, resentfulness and bitterness will hinder potential partnerships and collaborations.

2. DON’T expect them to notice your progress or applaud your success. After all, they are not looking for it.If people believe that you are too unskilled, too unprepared, too unseasoned, or too incompetent to accomplish a task or fulfill a position, they will be more inclined to notice your mistakes because they have conceptually classified you in the “incapable” category. It’s not your job to change their mind. Just continue to do your best.

3. DON’T expect them to be supportive. People are not inclined to invest time and energy into things they believe will fail. If you continue to operate as your best self, you will be surprised by the affirmation and encouragement that comes from unexpected sources. Always remember, God is already providing you access to the people and resources that you need.

4. DON’T let their limited view of you limit your view of yourself. Constructive criticism and accountability are invaluable for healthy leadership development. However, if you doubt yourself and your dreams because of the disbelief of others you will eventually miss out on amazing opportunities that you don’t think you’re ready for or deserve.

5. DO remain humble AND use this as an opportunity to make sure you are not “them”. It’s easy to read this blog entry from the perspective of the person being overlooked or mistreated. Nevertheless, it’s also beneficial to take this time to consider the people in your acquaintance that you may underestimate. After all, one of the greatest rewards of leadership is the chance to discover greatness in those around you.


Questions for Reflection:

  • Am I spending time and energy trying to prove myself to people who doubt me?
  • Am I resentful towards a person (or bitter about an organization) that disregarded my contributions, gifts, or skills?
  • Who are the person(s) in my organization or team that I need to hold in higher esteem…AND extend or create greater opportunities?

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