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We can't value someone else's opinion over our dreams.


Recently I was fortunate to be a keynote speaker at an empowerment event, but I wasn’t fortunate enough to capture some quality footage to share with people who weren’t there. The next best thing I could do was to write a recap of what moved the listening audience the most.

Lately on social media I’ve seen a lot of posts such as, “If I had a business would you support me?” or something alluding to a person being hesitant to launch a business or chase a dream because they fear a lack of support. After seeing a countless amount of social media friends post statuses of that manner, I felt an obligation to address it because conceptualizing this breakdown has been pivotal in my growth as a best-selling author and entrepreneur.

There are four levels of support.

1. The first level of support are the people that see your vision, even when you have a hard time seeing it or lose faith. It’s a rarity that this amount of people could be counted on more than one hand. It is typically a parent, spouse, sibling, or close friend who qualifies to be in this tier. A type of person that also qualifies for this category is someone who holds you accountable. The tricky part about adulthood is the decrease in the amount of people that hold you accountable. If you are in grade school there are teachers, parents, or guardians to do that. At work your boss will take on that role because you will get fired for not showing up or performing. The luxury of having someone to hold you accountable disintegrates when you decide to become an entrepreneur. There is no one making sure you put in more hours working for yourself than what you did at your previous jobs. I have been lucky to have a first line of support for my personal goals and professional goals. Someone who I am close with calls me out when I try to stray away from my strict food intake. I am also thankful to have a close friend that periodically checks in to ensure that I am executing my plans and accomplishing my goals. We owe the world to these first line of supporters. Their support is much deeper than a monetary value. Although this is our first line of support, we cannot rely on it. Our goals and dreams rely on us to execute them, not others. We should be beyond appreciative of their support and be highly motivated to prove them right.

2. Our second level of support may be the most critical to our bottom line and marketing efforts. The second tier consists of people who will buy our items no matter what we are selling. We could be selling dog leashes and they don’t even have a dog, but they will still buy one. This person will also repost your content without you even asking. That form of promotion is a severely undervalued form of marketing. Confidence is imperative to have if you desire to be great and this second tier plays a humungous factor in building confidence. If someone qualifies to be in this category, it is not necessary to persuade them to be in your first level of support. The trick is to avoid getting caught up in purchases from the second tier of support. Most of the time these people are supporting because of their love for you. Not because they are wowed by your service or product. Over-celebrating these wins could blindly lead you to contentment and stagnation.

3. The third level of support is typically the most under-appreciated and overlooked group. These are the people that like your posts, but rarely buy what you are selling. Sometimes we are too consumed in our efforts and don’t take into account that some people can’t financially afford to support at the time. It’s not the most desirable level of support, but it is important. Imagine if your content went unliked on social media. Over 75% of people that like your business related posts aren’t financial supporters, however those people do increase your chances of converting sales. They may not impact your bottom line directly, but they do indirectly. This is the only category that you should try to convert to another group. The method of doing so is to be understanding of their situation and not to take their lack of financial support personally. Just because they can’t afford to buy at the moment, don’t rule them out as a supporter or potential customer. You can block your blessings by giving them a cold shoulder.

4. Oh category four….. After reading the first three, it would be natural to wonder who in the world could fit into the fourth category. Four is the arguably most important group because it can make or break us and we predominantly get this wrong. These are the people that are praying on our downfall, speaking negatively about us, and hoping that we don’t win.

When you are striving for greatness, it is a prerequisite to know that you will be hated on, criticized, and ridiculed. It comes with the territory. Some of the most successful entertainers such as Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James deal with some of the harshest hatred. The same goes for successful businesses. Superior companies such as Amazon and Apple deal with people who troll their businesses constantly. There has not been one person or company that hasn’t received ridicule. If you are worried about ridicule, get it in your mind that everyone is subject to it. Even if you choose to do nothing, you will still be talked about.

We have two options on how to utilize this group to our benefit. Option one would be to ignore those who practice hate while you are in the game playing. A wise man once said, if you listen to the audience, you will be sitting with them before you know it. Option two would be to utilize my method. I often think about those who offer negative energy when my alarm clock goes off at 4:30am or when I don’t feel like working in the wee hours of the morning.

Putting in work during those times is what separates the contenders from pretenders. The most interesting aspect about the fourth tier, is that you have most likely been knowing these people for a lengthy period of time. Those people are envious because they desire to be where you’re headed and they haven’t progressed much from the same level where you met them at. When we speak about people gassing us up or pumping us up, we usually talk about people who are in the first or second tier of support, but the fourth tier often provides the fuel we need to make it to our destination. Once people categorize themselves in this category, please take into account that you are doing something right. Don’t be spiteful and stoop to their level.

When someone close to us doesn’t support our endeavors, we often place them in category 4, but often time that’s the wrong move. A person could love you and want the best for you, but may not see your vision until you succeed. Nine times out of ten they are unfamiliar with what it takes for you to accomplish your goals and haven’t accomplished it themselves. Take it every way but personal.

Final Sentiments

Which level of support is the most important?

The answer is none. We need them all. If I am forced to choose an answer, I would say either 3 or 4 because we most often get those wrong and they present the biggest areas of opportunity. It’s a waste of time and energy to complain about who doesn’t support you. Focus on catering to the first two tiers, being patient with the third, and turn the negative energy into positive actions. We can’t value someone else’s opinion over our dreams.

Article written by Ross Williams

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