Many people fear judgment when their choices don’t conform to the standards and expectations society has set.
We’ve been taught to seek the opinion of others. The constant need for validation often means we value the opinions of others over our own. It’s hard to live life on your own terms if you’re relying on the opinions of others to make decisions.
So how do you fire up your self-esteem to be confident, making your own decisions and not second guessing them?
In this article, Jay Shetty sits down with Dwayne Wade to talk about his journey from an insecure little kid who thrived on external validation to a 13-time NBA All-Star who is happy in his skin and no longer craves others’ approval. They also discuss Wade’s new memoir, Dwayne, and outline how you can learn to let go of the need for validation to become your best self.
Dwayne Wade’s new memoir is structured like a basketball game, featuring a pre-game section, first quarter, second quarter, halftime, third quarter, fourth quarter, and post game. It outlines the emotional journey into his life.
“There’s some very personal photos inside this book,” Wade tells Jay Shetty. “This is me trying to show the human side of me. As someone who’s a public figure, sometimes the human side of you gets lost, so what I wanted to capture is that part of me.”
The pictures flood Wade with memories of the promises and dreams he had as a kid.
“I’m able to go right back into that moment and relive some of those things,” Wade shares.
In a world full of video, social media, cell phone cameras, and instant access to content, it’s easy for people to document their day-to-day life. When Wade started this project, he had no idea where it would lead, but for him, the beauty was in the unknown.
“The beauty of life is the unknown,” Wade tells Jay Shetty. “The only thing I knew was how to be a good person, to work hard and treat others the way you want to be treated. It’s those small things in life that I carry with me, and I try to put that in everything I do.”
Faith has been a constant in Wade’s life since the early days of childhood. He considers himself spiritual but doesn’t identify with any particular religion. He tells Jay Shetty that he communicates with who he feels is his God and bows his head in prayer before each tip-off.
“I just wanted to express how thankful I am to my God,” Wade explains.
Jay Shetty admires Wade’s intention to create time for internal stillness in order to make sense of the world around him and express gratitude for his blessings.
Growing up, there were obstacles in Wade’s life that could have kept him from getting to where he is now, but his faith is a cornerstone in the foundation that led him to where he is today.
Wade admits to Jay Shetty that he has not always been the most confident person in the world. The confidence of others who believed in him made a difference in his life.
“I am fortunate to have people who were placed in my life who have made huge impacts,” Wade explains to Jay Shetty. “These individuals have been there to give me that nudge to push me back up. You start to realize the value of association and the value of those minds around you that help you see more than yourself.”
Coach Tom Crean believed Wade could be more than just a basketball player.
“When Tom Crean came to my house he presented me with a cap and gown,” Wade tells Jay Shetty. “At that moment, no one had ever talked to me, as an inner city kid, about graduating college. I just started thinking about going to college. There are not a lot of people in my family who have graduated college, so when he presented that to me, I started looking at him differently. It wasn’t just about what I can do for him on a basketball floor. He was talking about my future. He was talking about me building something bigger than just being a basketball player.”
Tom Crean became a father figure in Wade’s life, a shoulder to cry on and someone to lean on for advice. Wade credits Crean with changing his life. He believes positive role models and mentors are essential for all the little Dwayne Wade’s of the world.
Kids growing up in broken homes, living in poverty without opportunities and resources need someone like that. It’s that foundation that brought Wade to where he is today.
Wade has always thought differently about life. He believes there’s always something more. Even as a kid with basketball, he could read and understand the game better than most people. He felt it was part of God’s plan for him, and his parents worked to create opportunities for him to excel.
“I’ve always looked around and thought, ‘This is not it,’” Wade tells Jay Shetty. “This will not be it for me. Even now, I love life, my family, and everything we’ve accomplished, but I still look around and think, ‘This is for now. This is not it.’ There’s more living to do, more life.”
Wade believes this is the perfect balance between being present now yet being open to the possibility of there being more to life in the future.
“I feel like that balance is really rare,” Jay Shetty tells Wade.”People are either in the future or they’re in the present. Being able to go between the two is a really powerful skill.”
Keeping an Open Mind
Wade fully embraces having an open mind. Being able to appreciate the past and focus on living in the moment while still looking to the future keeps Wade’s mind moving.
“I thank God for the ability to have openness,” Wade explains to Jay Shetty. “If you’re open in this world, you will have experiences you could never have imagined. But if you’re close-minded you’re going to live in a box. I just never wanted to live in a box, so I made a decision to be open.”
Don’t let the fear of what others might think or say stop you from being open to things. You don’t need others’ approval to live the life you want to live.
You have most likely heard the saying, “patience is a virtue”. Wade takes it a step further and says, “Patience is the hardest virtue to learn.”
We live in a world of instant gratification. No one takes the time or patience to enjoy the little things, to look up and enjoy the things that zoom past and fade into the horizon. We have our heads buried in our cell phones with the pedal to the metal in life.
“We want to get to things right away,” Wade explains to Jay Shetty. “We don’t want to have patience and let things happen the way they are supposed to happen.”
Instead, slow down and enjoy the journey.
“We’re all born with a blank canvas,” Wade shares. “We’re able to find paint and paint our own story. Don’t let anyone else paint on your canvas. It’s yours. It’s blank. Paint it the way you see fit.”
Wade admits his need for validation has evolved. Today he’s at a place where he feels complete. He has his parents in his life, and they are healthy. His relationship with his wife and kids is strong, and he has the things he has always wanted and needed in life.
“I’ve gotten better about what people say about me or the perception of who I am supposed to be, but when I was younger, I needed that.” Wade tells Jay Shetty. “I wanted the praise. I needed attention. I wanted to be famous. I wanted to have my jerseys be the number one selling jersey. I was the insecure little boy, and I needed that from others. When I got to the point where things started becoming better in love and family and friends, I started feeling more whole, and I stopped caring about it.”
Jay Shetty agrees that you need to get to that place where you stop taking the opinions of others as gospel. Stop outsourcing your validation and self-esteem to other people. Believe in yourself and make decisions on what you think is right.
Imposter syndrome is something Wade deals with in life. He explains to Jay Shetty that he feels like he is the kid who snuck in behind the tall kid. No one has seen him to tell him to stop, so he just keeps going. He feels like he has had opportunities, not just because he is a talented basketball player, but because he has a greater purpose.
“I understand that my purpose is bigger, whatever it is,” Wade shares. “Whatever is on my heart, whatever my experiences are, I’m gonna speak out on them. That’s the world we live in. It is called freedom of speech. When you have connections and finances, you can get a little bit more into it and not just be a voice. You can be an active participant for change. I’m trying to be an active part of change in communities.”
Wade’s passion for people results in his support for work being done in local communities.
“My entire charitable efforts are to support the people who are doing the work, the programs that are doing the work, and the individuals who are on the ground in the community,” Wade shares with Jay Shetty. “That’s one of the reasons the Social Change Fund was formed. It wasn’t for fame. It was for us to be able to raise enough money to be able to pull resources together to give back to the people in the community who are doing the actual work.”
Wade’s wife jokes about how he flees from bed in the morning. He throws back the covers and jumps out of bed in haste. Wade feels he is so blessed to get up and face a new day full of opportunity that he just can’t stay in bed.
“Every day I wake up, I get to create something,” Wade explains to Jay Shetty. “I get to imagine something. I get to inspire someone. I’m a black kid from inner city Chicago. People don’t get a chance to talk to many little black kids in Chicago. They don’t get a voice. You don’t get to hear their stories. I’m just really grateful for all the blessings, but most importantly, the people I get to share it all with.”
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode with Dwayne Wade on “Letting Go of Validation to Become Your Best Self” in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.