Why Believe in Your Gifts Even When Others Don’t?

by Alli Polin on September 15, 2015

opinions are not erasers

My son refused to go to school this morning. Yes, I could have dragged him to the car without his shoes and uniform while he screamed and cried, but that seemed like a no-win start to the day. Instead, I drove his sister so she wouldn’t get a tardy, and decided to figure out what the heck was going on with my boy beyond, “I hate Tuesdays!”

“It’s music. I hate it. It’s awful and boring.”

Really? It’s not optional. I tried to rationalize with him. (If any of you have ever tried to rationalize with your elementary age child, you can guess how that went.)

“I’ve gone all year, I can’t go today.”

Tough luck. I lost my temper and told him to suck it up. Another great move on my part. I made him cry harder.

“It’s the worst.”

You are punished! Yup, instead of getting to the bottom of it, asking, talking, communicating… I took out the big time punishments.

“I do everything she asks, and she is the meanest.”

Mean or nice, it’s not an excuse to skip school. Nobody on earth loves every teacher they’ve ever had over their lifetime.

“What do you want from me!?” I shouted.

He knew the answer.

“I want you to tell me you love me.”


Let’s fast forward 30 minutes. We sat together over breakfast and agreed I’d take him into school in an hour (after the dreaded music.)

My son is gifted when it comes to music. He understands it in a way that I never will. Last year, the music teacher saw his gifts, challenged him, and gave him a grade for the year that reflected “above grade level.” This year, his new teacher most definitely does not see his gifts and she gave him a “D” in his mid-year report card. (In Australia the school year is January – December.)

My son doesn’t want to go to music anymore because he thinks that she thinks that he stinks. (Try to say that five times fast).

I want my son to grow up and embrace the leader within, and not be crushed by his 4th-grade music teacher’s opinions.

Here’s what we discussed over hot tea and toast. These lessons apply to all of us, not just kids in music class. 

  • You’ve always been a superstar and your new boss is giving you a hard time?
  • New coach for your team that barely gives you time off the bench?
  • Nasty comments on your blog from “haters”?
  • A colleague wants a promotion and thinks that the only way to get it is to point out your flaws to everyone who will listen?
  • You shared your concept in the team meeting and it was poo-pooed?

This is for you…

Why Believe in Your Gifts?

It’s not all in your head, you got gifts, my friend. You can’t go through life with an attitude of “less than.” A scarcity perspective will quickly make you bitter. Embrace your gifts with an abundance mindset.

Not everyone will see your gifts. That doesn’t mean they’re right, and you’re wrong. 

Opinions are not facts. When someone doesn’t see your gifts, they bring their own blind spots and biases. Have compassion for them and yourself too.

One person does not determine your self-worth.

Come on, you know your strengths. They didn’t change overnight because one person disagrees. Use their feedback not to stop, but to continue to build on your gifts.

It’s up to you to believe in yourself no matter what. 

If all it takes is one person to think you stink, you won’t go far. Chances are, lots of people will tell you that you stink for one reason or another (and it may have very little to do with you.) Believe in yourself always; be your greatest cheerleader and advocate.

Don’t let anyone rob you of your joy. Do what you love and enjoy it.  

Doing work you love creates a spark that brings you alive. Why give up your joy because someone else wants to extinguish your flame?

Your gifts are not subjective, but other’s opinions are. 

Know your gifts and own them. Opinions are not virtual erasers, changing your truth.


Tell yourself that you believe in your gifts. Feel silly for a second and say it out loud.

Use your talent with abandon. Never hold back for fear that someone else will judge your attempt or ability. Go all in.

How have you led forward when others tried to hold you back?

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian Smith September 15, 2015 at 6:10 am

Insightful as always – Well worth the read.


Alli Polin September 15, 2015 at 7:16 am

Grateful for your feedback, Brian! 🙂


John Thurlbeck September 15, 2015 at 6:22 am

Hi Alli
Felt your pain; loved your insight!
Great post! Our gifts and talents are priceless!
Definitely well worth the read!
Kind regards


Alli Polin September 15, 2015 at 7:17 am

Priceless! Yes! Always appreciate your support and connection. Thanks, John!


Grenae Thompson September 15, 2015 at 9:05 am

What good parent hasn’t fallen back on those well-worn words of wisdom, “Suck it up!” Love it. How humbling it can be when those un-grown-ups turn the table on us. They have such uncomplicated insight and needs.

Thanks for sharing this life lesson with such compassion, Alli. The naysayers are always with us.

P.S. Keep us posted, just in case you decide a parent-music teacher meeting is warranted.


Alli Polin September 15, 2015 at 9:23 am

Talked about that teacher meeting just today!

He was really struggling today and I was glad that we got to the heart of it. Growing up isn’t easy, especially when adults grade you with no explanation (no comment on his report card.) The great thing is that he want to do his best. We talked about what happens if he does his best and she doesn’t appreciate it – what then? Life goes on.

Appreciate your reading, sharing and comment too!

~ Alli


Chery Gegelman September 15, 2015 at 10:04 am

Powerful story from a gifted story-teller!

I love that you heard him, understand him, and gave him some great coaching.

I agree with others, I’d love to hear the rest of the story. And wonder how he will tell this story as an adult…


Alli Polin September 16, 2015 at 8:52 am

I did hear him even when he was afraid that I would not or could not.

I hope that it ends with him learning that not everyone will see his gifts, not every teacher will sparkle, and sometimes you do the things you don’t want to do because you have to do it. I also hope that he discovers that he can empower himself to ask questions, understand what others are thinking and recommit to doing his personal best.

Thanks, Chery!


John Bennett September 15, 2015 at 10:46 am

No one can know all that went into the efforts you are making. Therefore any ‘freely shared advice’ cannot possibly be as informed as they believe it is! Listen to their comments regardless of the tone used; there could be an unexpected nugget … Indeed, respond calmly to their QUESTIONS; the responses you provide will only have positive influences if any at all. I’d even suggest questions of them – as the dialogue that follows will benefit you.

But, bottom line, remind yourself that there are many more ways others will justify their comments to you besides seeking to help. Beware of non-requested advice! Just as with material discovered on the Internet, others can’t possibly know the information, constraints, and criteria with which you are operating.


Alli Polin September 16, 2015 at 8:55 am


I’m with you 100%. We can’t blow off someone else’s comments and opinions simply because they are contrary to our own. Looking for that grain of truth that can help us grow is also a gift.

A question I encourage coaching clients to ask is “What if I’m wrong” – especially when they’re digging in. It doesn’t mean they are wrong but it also helps to shift their perspective.

Thanks for your addition to the conversation!


LaRae Quy September 15, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Wow! What a powerful story, Alli! I love how you bring life’s lessons down to a level we can all truly relate to…

We’ve all been where your son was that day. It’s part of growing up, no matter our age, and learning how to accept both our gifts and our shadow (maybe not such great news).

We are not perfect and so are a combination of both, and the sooner we claim our gifts and learn to work our way through those areas that are not always our allies, the better we can move forward in life.

Great article…so true that not everyone is in a place to accept or see our gifts but confidence and assurance in our abilities will always find a way to see us through.


Alli Polin September 16, 2015 at 8:57 am

It IS A part of growing up, painful as it may be. I didn’t rush into school to fix it or demand a grade change (but will likely talk to her with him when he’s ready).

It’s important that we don’t lose faith in ourselves at the first sign that someone else doesn’t see all of our capabilities. Happens far too often and easily in children and adults.

Thanks for your insights, LaRae!


Terri Klass September 15, 2015 at 4:26 pm

The stories you share are just priceless, Alli! And your unique ability to make us laugh and stop to think is extraordinary.

It is a shame that we sometimes allow others to decide what we feel are our strength. Your son is so lucky to have you be honest and compassionate with him. Your coaching gifts from the very young to adults are so strong (even if you did lose it a bit at first with your son).

Perspective comes with age . 🙂

Thanks Alli and can’t wait to share!


Alli Polin September 16, 2015 at 8:59 am

Oh, I lost it more than a bit. Still, when I took a few deep breaths and stopped telling him what he had to do and really listened, things changed. Funny how that works. 🙂

Thanks so much, Terri!


Corina Ramos September 15, 2015 at 4:42 pm

Love this post Alli,

I tell my kids to suck it up and get over it all the time :). When my son was in school he hated a Wednesdays. Turns out there was a bully who was bothering him. He didn’t say anything to anyone until one day during a fire drill the my son had enough and punched him while they were waiting to get back to class. He’s a young adult now but he has major trust issues now.

I’m so sorry your son had to deal with his knuclehead teacher. I would definitely have a meeting with her – my mama bear claws came out, hehe. 🙂

I think it was great that you talked with him and he shared what was going on. You gave him some valuable advice and you’re right, we can all use it. I love when you said it’s up to us to believe in ourselves no matter what…that is so true.

I remember feeling less than when I started blogging…it wasn’t a good feeling at all. 🙂 I hope things get better for your son.



Alli Polin September 16, 2015 at 9:04 am

I’m glad I’m not the only one who tells my kids to suck it up 🙂

It’s interesting, I asked my son if there was a bully at school and if that was why he didn’t want to go. He insisted that’s not the case. I’m sorry that your son had to deal with a bully at school. It’s something I wish no child ever had to cope with at all.

I’m so glad that you persisted with your blogging. Coming to your site is a joy!

Oh, and I’ve got some big time mama bear claws too. 🙂

Thanks, Cori!


Jon Mertz September 15, 2015 at 10:30 pm


So important to understand our gifts and use them no matter what. Whether as a kid or an adult, unfortunately, people will ignore us at times. As Steve Martin said, be so good that can’t ignore you. We need to keep using our gifts, getting better, and shine beyond our own beliefs (as well as the beliefs of others).

Kids have a way of highlighting much truth in life. Thanks for sharing your stories.



Alli Polin September 16, 2015 at 9:05 am

Ah yes, great quote from Steve Martin. I think you hit on it. When someone else doubts our capabilities, don’t get angry or shy away…. shine.

Grateful for your comment and insights always!


Ingrid September 16, 2015 at 2:32 am

Thanks so much for this story Alli. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith, believe in yourself, and do whatever it is that you dream of. And as a child, it’s great to know that Mum or Dad is in your corner.

Feedback is always useful, but you do need to remember that it’s only one persons opinion. Take what you can from it and move on.


Alli Polin September 16, 2015 at 9:08 am

Take from it what you can. So important.

Our dreams and passions are our heart’s fuel. We can’t let someone else determine what’s possible.

Many thanks, Ingrid!


Cynthia Bazin September 16, 2015 at 8:32 am

LOVE this Alli! Came at the perfect time. Sharing!!!! YOU ROCK!


Alli Polin September 16, 2015 at 9:08 am

Huge thanks for your support and connection!! Thanks, Cindy!


Karin Hurt September 16, 2015 at 12:58 pm

I think you’ve just written the first chapter in the sequel to our Parent’s Guide to Leadership… oh boy, pretty soon will be headed for “the teenage version” that should test us 😉

I have found this to be such an important aspect of my entrepreneurial journey. I’ve taking some big risks and making some real investments because I believe in my skills. In my latest project I’ve had a few “you’ll never find a market for that” comments from people who I respect, but have never tried anything like this.

I know what I’m producing is a unique product that will change the game for managers. It’s taken courage however, to look a few poo pooers (who BTW haven’t dug in very deeply to really explore what they’re poo pooing) in the eye and say “thank you very much for your opinion. I absolutely believe in what I’m doing. I look forward to proving you wrong.” It would have been very easy to let their doubt become mine, and I would not have offered my gifts to people who could benefit.


Alli Polin September 18, 2015 at 10:12 am

Thank you for sharing your thoughts here! You’re definitely a role model for going all out, planting seeds and helping them grow. Far too many people find pleasure in stomping on other’s gardens before they’ve bloomed.

Some of your upcoming projects look incredible! I’m glad you’ve ignored the naysayers to unleash them on the world.


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