Our perception of our reality is far more important than the actual reality. Growing up I was always skinny and under-sized. I didn’t grow up with a ton of money in my household either – at least in comparison to most of my friends. As a result of both of those factors I grew up with a sizable chip on my shoulder.
If I thought someone was disrespecting me – or a friend – I’d fight them. If I felt that I was being treated unfairly, or if someone else who was unwilling to defend themselves was being treated unfairly, I’d fight back – physically or verbally.
I had an undying desire to prove people wrong. I thought everyone thought that I would fail. Even if they didn’t. This provided me with a ton of fuel to feed the fire in my belly to succeed, win, and train harder than my competition.
Even with something bad, like a ‘Napoleon’ complex, there is good. You see this mentality in guys like Michael Jordan, who constantly felt as though he had to prove himself, or Tyson, or the moguls and CEO’s that have a relentless work ethic, an obsession for their work and their goals.
It helped me wake up at 5 am every morning to get to my high school early to practice basketball. It gave me reason to get a job when I was in the 5th grade and work to pay for my hockey gear while my other pal’s were given the newest, most expensive gear from their parents.
I was a feisty kid. I had the biggest scrap of the year when I was in the 9th grade. It was in the cafeteria. A group of kids were in a war of words with my pal’s. I was late getting to lunch, and when I walked into the battle of words. My buddies were yelling in english, the other group in madarine, which seemed completely useless to me, so I made it a battle both languages to appreciate, a battle of fists. It took 4 punches to make a mess of the biggest guy’s face.
There’s no pride in this admission. I say this to illustrate my overall battle, a battle that I know a lot of other guys – especially young guys are having. You want respect. You want to be respected, but you don’t know how to get it.
In that fight I didn’t throw the first punch, which only added to the chip on my shoulder when I was suspended and the other kid wasn’t. I was furious. I felt that the world was against me. That they were coddling this other kid just because he lost the fight. And it was true. But as I sat in the principles office my basketball coach stopped by.
I had blood covering my hands; blood that wasn’t my own. He looked at me, in shock of the mess on my hands, and asked, What’s with this me against the world attitude, Chad?
I fought back, telling him I just did what was right, and now I’m being punished for it. But after he left, I sat there for a few hours and wondered why the hell I did have this attitude that the world was against me? That people didn’t want me to succeed, that I wasn’t getting the respect I thought I deserved? Why was I making every aspect, even most of my relationships, smaller battles of a bigger war that didn’t necessarily need to be fought?
It took a few years to figure it out. To learn that it wasn’t me against the world, and that my perception of reality was completely wrong. That I was getting respect, and most of the situations where I felt that I was being disrespected were of my own fabrication.
In my quest to get respect, I was actually losing it. In my desire to feel secure and strong, I was diving, head first, into a mode of living and a way of thinking that would leave me forever searching for a place in this world. It was a way of living that would never allow me to set my feet firmly, and on a solid foundation. If I kept this up I’d always be fighting an uphill battle against an enemy that I created.
But that’s how we learn. And it’s taken me some time to learn how to get true respect, to have people in your life who are honored to be in your life, and to see things how they are, not how we may deep down want to see them.
To be honest, I loved being the underdog, the fighter, the guy who had to prove himself. So I made myself the underdog in every situation. I still do that today. I’m naturally a fighter. If I’m not fighting anything, I’m not improving, growing, and learning. But there’s a good and healthy way to wage war, and a destructive way.
The 6 Steps to Get Respect
I. Stop looking for it
One of our greatest flaws as humans, and especially men, is that we’re constantly looking for the approval of others, be it our parents, our friends, our peers, our coaches. It’s a destructive way to live. Think about it…
Your happiness is based upon your perception of someone else’s perception of you!
For one, you don’t truly know how they see you. Second, they don’t know your whole story, so their perception of you can never truly be accurate. They don’t, and can’t, have all of the evidence. And why should you care that they do anyhow? Yet, your happiness is completely contingent on what they think.
So, you buy nice cars, clothes, and accessories, just to impress people so you can feel respected. You make decisions about your own life based on what you think others will think. Not only is it not a good way to get respect, but it’s a terrible way to create a happy life. You can’t be an original if you’re always aiming to please, and if you’re constantly aware of what others are thinking of you.
If you want to be a man that’s truly respected, you have to stop living to get respect. You have to march to your own tune, to the beat of your own drum. Of course you have to serve others, like your family members, and your friends. But serve them because it makes you happy and it helps them, not because you think that it will make them respect you more.
What to do: Do something that you have always wanted to do. It can be small, like singing in public or trying stand-up (actually, those aren’t necessarily “small”). It can be something bigger as well, like moving to a new city, away from your comfort zone, or quitting school and getting a job because you really aren’t getting your money’s worth from school.
The point is to live life on your own terms. Forget about getting respect. Let go of your insecurities, they aren’t real anyhow. Work hard at what you want to work hard at, and set the goals that you actually want to set.
II. Respect yourself
What do you really think about yourself?
Answer that question with brutal honesty. Growing up I dreamed a lot, but I didn’t truly believe that I could accomplish those dreams, nor that I was worthy of said dreams and aspirations. That’s a sentiment that still lingers somewhat today, and I don’t think it’s uncommon.
It’s hard to know you’re worthy of something until you’ve accomplished it.
I have, however, learned to see the reality, and the good. I know my strengths, as well as my weaknesses. And I’m working on developing and cultivating both. I respect my work ethic, and I respect the fact that I stick to my values. I have a fundamental understanding that I’m worthy only of what I’m willing to work and sacrifice and hustle to accomplish.
And values, they’re incredibly important. If you don’t know your values, or you know them, but you’re not strong enough to stand by them, it’s going to be hard to respect yourself, and get respect from others.
Many of us can’t simply respect ourselves out of thin air. We need evidence. That evidence comes from accomplishment, but also from standing firm on the things you value in life. It comes from being an honorable man. From telling the truth, and not lying. From sticking to your word and not making empty promises (even promises to yourself).
If you’re a man of honor, people will be honored to call you a friend.
What to do: Get in the practice of doing what you say you’re going to do. Be a man of your word. A man that lives by his word.
III. Give it to get it
You can’t get respect if you also don’t give it. Respecting other people is a must. If you don’t respect other people, if you’re constantly fighting their opinions and advice like I was growing up, it’s going to be hard to get the respect you seek.
Respect the time of others. Respect their space. And most importantly, respect the fact that everyone on the planet knows something that you don’t. There’s something we can learn from everyone on earth. Give them the respect they deserve because of that fact, but also because they’re people, and if you want to be treated a certain way, it’s best you treat others the same.
What to do: Don’t always make people earn your respect. Let them lose it if they must. But give it to them right away. What they do with your respect is on them.
IV. Develop confidence
Man, we all need confidence, yet so few truly have it.
Confidence is closely tied to honor and respect. If you’re an honorable man, if you know your values and what you stand for, you’re going to be confident in who you are. But you also need to take care of your insecurities.
I needed to get bigger and stronger. When I built a stronger body, it didn’t solve all of my issues, but it helped. Boxing did as well. I actually got in a lot more fights before I knew how to fight than after I become good at the sport. Partially because fighting became a sport, a competition.
My sparring partners were all my friends. We worked together to get better, while, of course, beating the crap out of one another. Boxing and my ideal body gave me a quiet confidence. I knew I could handle myself. And I knew I looked strong and healthy, and I was proud of both of those facts.
That’s why I create the programs that I create, so you can see those same benefits. Not only with confidence in your physical appearance, but confidence in how you perform, and in your health.
If you’re still lacking in this area, or you want to improve, take the PowerHowse Challege, and build the body that will help you be the man you want to be.
V. Live in your own world
Solitude is not only undervalued in today’s society, but it’s harder and harder to find and create. We’re connected to everyone today. On our phones, our computers, at work, at home. We’re rarely ever truly alone. And yes, this is a bad thing. Solitude is where we can find our thoughts. It’s where we connect with ourselves.
It’s in solitude that you find clarity and a purpose. It’s where you can learn how to be genuine. If you’re constantly posting pictures to get more likes, your purpose is to please others. It’s, again, contingent on the perceptions of other people who don’t have the whole story, and they don’t have the whole story for a reason, you don’t want to give it to them. You’d rather create an image than let people see what’s really going on.
That’s another reason why Facebook, and things like it, can be dangerous. It allows us to create an alternate reality. A reality that isn’t real. It’s where we live, outside of the world that we’re actually in.
Live in your own world.
Spend some time alone. Discover what you want, who you are, and stop living to please other people. If you have to make some tough decisions in your life, make them without giving a crap what other people will think. If you believe something, believe it, and believe it with strength, without being swayed by popular opinion.
Popular opinion isn’t always right or good. As a society we’re headed in a dangerous direction. We’re developing a sense of entitlement. We’re avoiding hard work. We’re becoming cynical. We’re filled with envy and want what others have without doing the work that they’ve done. We want to bring them down to our level rather than rising to our own.
Our value is becoming completely dependent on what others think. It’s a bad direction we’re headed in. Our values are diminishing, and I don’t want to be a part of this decline. I’d rather help bring back these values that we’ve lost. I’d rather help people become stronger, not weaker and more dependent on others for safety and meaning. As a result I spend a fair amount of time on my own, crafting my own opinions, reading, learning, and developing character through hard work and sacrifice.
Build relationships, of course, but don’t neglect the power of figuring shit out on your own. It’s when you take your own journey, and make your own adventures, that you grow stronger and develop character. It’s where you become an original.
The world loves originals because they’re leading the way. They’re living life.
What to do: Get a journal. Every night, in silence and solitude, write down your thoughts and your goals. Write down the things you’re struggling with. Writing will bring clarity. It’ll help you decipher between what you really want, and what you think you want based on what others want for you, or expect of you.
VI. Accept reality for what it is
There’s a big difference between our perception of reality, and reality. Learn to understand the difference. Know the reality of the situation you’re in. Accept the reality of the situation you’re in.
Robert E. Lee has the best outlook on life I’ve come across, and he was staunch in practicing it. His view was that a man must accept the reality of every situation for what it was, and make the best of it.
The key part was accepting reality. Don’t wish things were different. Don’t think things are different. They are what they are. If you suck at something, and you’re insecure about sucking at that thing, be real with yourself. Understand that you suck. Don’t fight it. Fix it. Work hard to make this weakness your strength.
Work hard on knowing the difference between reality and your perception. It’s when you can see things as they truly are, without your own perceptions, that you can then work on fixing them and improving them.
What to do: Take a trip on your own. Spend some time alone. Remove yourself from the cliques and crews you get tied into, and discover who you are and what you want in life. Most importantly, though, write down your values. They’re your foundation. They’ll keep you humble and hard working and ambitious and honorable.