I’ve given hundreds of speeches at industry events over the years. More often than not — and I’m not bragging — there’s a line of people waiting to speak to me after a presentation (and it’s usually not because of something I said on stage). Surprisingly, many of them stand in line to voice their own perspectives on the industry to me — even when they know their views run contrary to the advice I give. Are these people looking to pick a fight with me? No, they’re simply doing what we do every day — seek validation.
Why do we seek validation?
It’s human nature to seek validation from others. We do it every day. We seek approval from our colleagues, friends and loved ones on numerous topics (of course, some are more consequential than others). Take a moment to think about this: Do you have more or less in common with the people you surround yourself with? More, right? This is because we tend to gravitate toward people who validate who we think we are are, what we think we believe and what we think we want to hear. We seek validation because we want to be right, not wrong — but this mindset impairs judgment in many ways. For example, truth becomes fiction. Even though approval-seeking behavior isn’t always a bad thing, it can be — especially with regard to business.
Why is approval-seeking behavior bad for business?
By holding on to your perspectives, you miss opportunities. You can’t have an open mind if you’re busy protecting your views. It just doesn’t work that way. As a business owner, you should always strive to do better. You can’t do that if you’re stuck in your own ways. Validation-seeking behavior also makes you dependent on others, and as a small
business owner (as you’re well aware) you can’t always rely on other people to help you make business decisions. At the end of the day, you’re solely responsible for your brand and the way your business operates. While it’s okay to solicit feedback from your peers, you should only do so if you’re willing to learn — not if you’re only looking for validation.
How you can avoid validation-seeking behavior
Always listen — truly listen to what’s being said. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t stick to your guns when you’re right — you most definitely should — but I’m saying you should always take the opportunity to listen to what’s being said before writing anything off. You owe it to yourself and your business. Be open to taking opportunities to consider
other points of views when you can. It’s okay to challenge yourself. Be naturally curious. Instead of seeking validation, seek the truth. Listen closely to your peers and your customers. Find out whether you’re on the same page. If there’s a difference in perspective, understand why. Don’t be afraid to be wrong. What’s important is you learn and grow as a business owner. If you do your best to avoid validation-seeking behavior, your business will not only grow but flourish for years to come.