When one thinks of the concept of a co-signer, what usually comes to mind is a financial loan or something used to help get approval for a purchase. But there’s another co-signer concept as well: The peanut gallery of people who frequently use phrases such as, “You should…” or “You need to…” or “I don’t think …” or “That’s not …”
Some of us walk through life constantly needing the OK from this peanut gallery, whether it’s family members, friends or spouses.
Take these hypothetical instances:
Friend 1: I don’t think a natural would be a good look for you. Just isn’t professional.
Friend 2: You don’t think so? I love natural hair, and I’m sick of all the relaxers and chemicals… Okay, well … I think I’ll keep my hair straight.
Family Member 1: I’ve always wanted to move to Europe and volunteer with youth.
Family Member 2: What do you know about Europe? You need to focus on the job you have here in the States.
Colleague 1: I’ve always dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. I’m sick of working on computers. It’s not my passion. I’m going to put in my two weeks, and go to school full time.
Colleague 2: In this economy? You should just stay where you are. Maybe volunteer at a pet shelter or something …
True, well-meaning peers can offer great advice on how to handle situations, how to resolve conflicts or simply be confidantes in times of need. People often volunteer advice or their two cents on the decisions people make out of love or concern.
Also true is the fact that a great mentor can help guide a professional on the best moves to make. An effective mentor would be credible enough to do so, having either been there and done that, or having the professional knowledge and experience to back up any advice given. They will also know how to give directives that are more about positive options or alternatives and less focused on discouragement.
Lately, I’ve been privy to people, who have no real experience or even basis of knowledge, speaking on what someone should or shouldn’t do, and seeing people who can’t seem to make one move without a co-sign. Just as a financial co-signer has to align with various financial and employment criteria for approval from a bank, the same should go for those “life” co-signers who speak on behalf of the decisions of others.
In a fast-paced business world where confidence is vital, I’ve found that building inner discernment is a better option than always needing someone to approve of what I’m doing in my life. How can one maneuver a vehicle forward if they’re constantly distracted by backseat drivers? How can one truly capture their destiny if they’re always unsure or even more confused because of constant consideration of multiple opinions and irrelevant scrutiny?
If one has strong discernment and confidence, they are able to know when to ask for help and when to just act. They know when to listen to that inner voice and take a chance, and when they should first get insight or expert advice before making a move. They know the foundation of who they are and what works for their unique needs and wants. They also know that those things may not always be traditional or on the beaten path, and that’s OK.
Sometimes, even choosing to do the total opposite of what someone advises— and falling down because of it—is even OK. Mistakes are part of life, and some of us wouldn’t learn or advance without making them.
From the few years (*wink) I’ve been on this Earth, I’ve learned that, it’s alright to admire someone, hold their opinions in high esteem, and even be inspired by their blueprint for success, but it’s important to make my own decisions, be accepting of the consequences and even create a new blueprint for the life that is MINE.
I would challenge anyone out there who is constantly looking for outside approval on everything they do to first look inward and be secure in the person you are, and to develop and exercise discernment. You don’t always need that cosigner, and when you do need one, know who to trust with the honor of giving you advice. Ultimately, trust yourself to act on what you believe is right.