When people tell me they think I’m going to be the President of the United States, an alarm always starts going off in the back of my head.
Okay, almost always. Usually the alarm isn’t present when I hear a friend whisper, “Kelvey for President 2036,” across the room; instead, there’s laughter.
You get my point.
It’s not even that I don’t want to take up residence in the White House (although that is nowhere to be found in my life goals). The alarm sounds and panic sets in because I realize that in that moment, I have impressed somebody.
And that is a very, very dangerous thing.
Society has set the bar dangerously low. In any field, a little bit of experience and knowledge garners much more credibility than it should. Sound somewhat intelligent on an issue, and people regard you in a light you may not have earned.
That’s why you need to surround yourself with people who aren’t impressed by you.
Don’t get me wrong – you need people in your life who will encourage you and who are proud of you, who truly believe in you and call out the talent and skills that you possess as a unique individual. That’s not the same thing as being impressed.
When somebody is impressed by you, they do not necessarily give praise where praise is deserved. Every time somebody tells me that they want me in the White House, I wish that I could take the time to introduce them to some of my friends who could run CIRCLES around me in all things political. I wish that I could show them how little I actually know and how much there still is to learn.
Instead I politely laugh and ignore the alarm bell in the back of my head.
In a world where people are impressed by surpassing an insanely low bar, the people in your life who aren’t impressed with you will push you to be your best. They will commend you where you deserve commendation, but won’t flatter you or ignore your faults.
If the only people you keep company with are those you impress, it will not be long before humility dies away and pride takes over your life. In addition, growth will stagnate; why try to be your best when you already are considered the best within your circle at ____?
Find the people who love you, but whose minds you don’t blow, and keep them close. Find your people that will encourage you, commend you, constructively critique you, and feel free to question you.
Being impressive is solely about being better than those to whom you are compared. Strive to be your best instead, not just impressive.