When validation matters…or not


I’ve been pretty vocal about the fact that I’m not a TV watcher. However, I DO watch Blue Bloods episodes on my Kindle when I’m working out. Honestly…it’s the carrot to my stubborn mule self and the only thing that gets me on the treadmill. That being said…I’m a huge fan of this series (it may or may not have anything to do with Tom Selleck, I’m not saying).

For those of you not familiar, this is a family of NYC police officers and Tom plays the Dad, the current Police Commissioner. In this particular episode…there was a medal ceremony, where Frank (the Commissioner) was able to recognize his detective son with a medal of honor. It was a powerful moment. They, of course, had a conversation before where Frank told his son, “you know I’m proud of you – you don’t need a medal or a ceremony for that.”

“Of course, Dad.”

And we all know that’s true, right?

Or DO we?

Validation is a powerful thing, y’all.

We seek it. We strive for it. We call out for it from the time we are tots. After we cough or sneeze and our parents think it’s cute…we fake cough or sneeze to get them to validate us again.

We fall on our bottoms over and over while we’re learning to walk…the sting not hurting at all…not JUST because we’re wearing a mattress-sized diaper, but also because our people are clapping, laughing, smiling and watching us!

They. Validate. Us.

  • We jump on the trampoline. “Mommy, watch this!”
  • We dive into a pool. “Daddy, see what I can do!”
  • We turn a cartwheel, blow bubbles with gum and even burp the alphabet — begging for praise, attention – the almighty powerful VALIDATION!

We work for those ‘we matter’ moments!

This doesn’t change or lessen as we get into our teens or young adulthood. If anything, it’s just harder for our parents or significant folks to detect because now it’s not cool to say ‘Mom – watch this and then clap!’ like we do when we’re younger.

Sometimes, maybe our grownups even turn to coach instead of cheerleader…telling us what we could have fixed or what we should do differently next time, instead of just loving on us, cheering for us, validating our work.

But validation doesn’t cease to be powerful and sometimes, comes from unexpected places.

When I was in high school, my junior English teacher, Mrs. Molly White, asked me to sing at her husband’s officer installation at the Masonic Lodge. This was a very important event in their life and she wanted to PAY me to sing.  I was floored.

It took me years to realize why that was such a standout moment to me. But plain and simple, that invitation (and that check) validated my work, my music.

It was an ‘I matter’ moment!

Our local newspaper printed every article I wrote and submitted about our high school band, student council, choir and more. They validated my work with ink and a byline. This was a precursor to my having the confidence to write this, to write now. I’m still grateful for that validation.

I quickly learned that every stage and performance was an opportunity for instant validation through applause, smiles and crowd reaction.

My parents were not big ‘praisers’ — they supported me. They hauled me back and forth to practices. They were thankful I was a busy high school and college kid and not into trouble or slothfulness. I think they likely thought ‘well, it’s what she does…she knows we love and support her.’

But then — fast forward years later… my parents attend one of my live business events. My dad was going to listen to me speak from the stage for the first time ever.

Mom was used to my speaking. As my transcriptionist, she had been typing every recorded word that came out of my mouth for years. (Bless her heart).

It was a great two days. The crowd was lively and engaged. Our charity auction raised an incredible amount in a short period of time and I couldn’t have been more pleased.


10606582_10205374876230217_2069610945200813568_nThe unmistakable sound of my dad clearing his throat…always the precursor to something important. Usually means he’s a little nervous.

He was holding a half sheet of torn paper that he’d been scribbling notes on…something I’ve seen him do thousands of times in my life. (His handwriting is unmistakeable and precious to me…teachers – please keep teaching cursive. But, I digress)…

He hugged me. Told me had a good time. Marveled at the charity auction and how magical that was.

Then showed me the notes he took…from MY speech.

My points.
My outline.
My stories.
(My work!!)

“(Ahem) That was really good, Daughter. I liked it a lot. (He calls me that and I love it – I’m the only girl in the family 😉

Your points were really great and it struck me how those work for evangelism too.”

He proceeded to show me this parallel and that. And again with the throat clear.

“Would it be okay with you if I used these points in my next sermon in a few weeks? I’ll let everyone know I stole the points from my daughter’s speech.”

At that moment…I knew what Frank’s son, the detective, felt like as his Dad, the Commissioner, both his father, his boss and also his mentor, pinned a medal of honor to his chest for good work, above and beyond the call of duty.

  • I was proud.
  • I was humbled.
  • I was validated.

What validates you in your work or life?

  • Words of praise?
  • Awards?
  • Payment for services?
  • Comments on your blog?
  • Shares of your Facebook feed?
  • A publishing contract?
  • A keynote fee?

I know validation can be important…I dare not dismiss it. BUT — let validation motivate you to do great work, even better work.

Let it PROPEL you!

Don’t just work FOR validation or let it determine ALL of your worth. That’s a dangerous place, leaping from one lily pad of validation to the next…threatening to sink if you don’t receive the validation you seek.

Don’t let lack of validation PARALYZE you.

It’s a fine line. I get it. I gave dozens of speeches before Dad affirmed me. I’ve given dozens since. And still… that moment with Dad, that moment with Ms. Molly White, the editor of my small town paper, many moments with YOU and with my kids…they matter.

We matter.
Our work matters.
Hang in there.


004: If the Label is Itchy, Cut it Out









In this 9 minute episode, you’ll hear:

  • Carrie in story-telling mode – not sure if you’ve heard her like this on a podcast before
  • Why the labels others assign you (in school, home or even on the playground) don’t have to determine your destiny
  • All the awards and honors she did NOT earn (sniff) and why that’s totally okay!
  • Why social workers told her NOT to adopt her son & daughter!
  • Her late mentor Chet Holmes’ wise words on persistence

Please listen, download, subscribe and share! Someone needs to be encouraged!

[if you prefer to read than listen, please scroll down for the word-for-word transcript]



I think everybody has had the experience of buying a shirt or a pair of pants where there was an itchy label in the back…something that kind of rubbed you wrong. While the label was maybe necessary so that you know how to put that piece of clothing on properly it really was very uncomfortable, and we really just couldn’t wait to tear it out or cut it out or get rid of the label.

I think as humans we have all sorts of labels that don’t always serve us. One of the things I really strongly believe is we need to learn to defy labels.

Let’s start with my dad.

My dad was raised in an uneducated family and an alcoholic family if we’re being brutally honest. It was not a really warm and fuzzy family. I would go as far as to say my grandfather was even verbally abusive. I know that’s not popular to talk about but it is what it is.

My dad was the oldest of four and he was in a “certain” part of town and in a “certain” school. He had “certain” labels. But my dad determined really young that those labels were itchy and uncomfortable and he cut those out as quickly as he could. He excelled in his high school and excelled in his job. As a matter of fact, in one of his early jobs he was told by one of the other men to ‘Stop working so fast and so hard or you’ll work yourself out of a job. You’re making the rest of us look bad and nobody likes that.’ That was uncomfortable for him, too, because he was an achiever.

Being an achiever was unusual for his family because they were not even high school graduates except for his mother. Dad went into the United States Coast Guard and even as an enlisted man he earned the highest medal given, the Achievement Medal. He did that as he continued to take off labels. He continued to work and test and excel and do and I learned early from him that we do not have to fulfill the labels that other people place on us. He retired as an officer in the Coast Guard and later went into the ministry.

We do not have to fulfill the prophecies that other people make for us, the things they tell us in school, the things they call you on the playground, maybe even the things your parents say to you — don’t have to be the case.

The other story I like to tie into labels is when I was in high school. I was not a kid that was labeled. I was not a super achiever and I wasn’t an under achiever. I was kind of in that messy middle. When they handed out labels like Most Popular or Best Dressed or Most Likely to be on Stage or Most Likely to Succeed, I remember being at prom and thinking ‘I didn’t even get any label; I didn’t get recognized for anything!!’

When I left school –that safe ground of education – and moved forward I remember looking at other people and thinking ‘Wow, they know what to do. They know what’s next. They know what defines them.’

I had to make a choice. I could either be defined by a label that somebody gave me or be defined by the fact that nobody gave me a label.

  • Instead, I determined to be successful.
  • I determined to be onstage and
  • I determined to create my own label – a label that was comfortable and a label that fit me instead of something that I let somebody else assign me.

Later, when I became a mom I adopted two amazing toddlers, a boy and girl who are biological siblings. Mark was a little older than 2 (maybe 24-25 months) and Emily was 8 months old. I’ll never forget sitting in the meeting of the decisions makers (the social workers and the caseworkers and the important people that were deciding the fate of these children) and they were saying to me ‘I don’t think that these kids are for you. I don’t think that they’re a fit. We think that the little girl has autism and failure to thrive and failure to bond. You’re educated and you’re achievers and we don’t think she will ever meet your expectations. We don’t think this is a match. We’re going to recommend that you say no.’

I’ll never forget the outrage that we felt at that label being placed on her and those limitations being placed on her at 8 months of age. Sure enough, I guess I’m just stubborn enough that she became ours anyway against popular advisement. When she moved in the Child Specialist told us she was almost 9 months old but at a 3-month developmental level. Within 6 weeks that child was at a 10-month old development level because of music therapy and physical and occupational therapy and just what my late mentor, Chet Holmes, would call “pig-headed stubbornness” on her part and mine.

Long story short (or maybe we’re past that) she was a 16-year-old high school graduate who was the fourth in her class. She was Drum Major of the marching band. (Incidentally, Drum Major of her momma’s marching band….so she was a second generation Drum Major.) She was an honor graduate, of course, as fourth in her class. She was President of the National Honor Society. She was involved in student government and so many other things. She was First Runner-Up for Homecoming Queen in her Senior Class and Band Sweetheart her senior year. She is now on full scholarship at college studying Music Therapy so she can work with amazing kids and special needs populations that have been labeled in so many different ways.

I tell her over and over again that she did not meet my expectations and shame on me for those expectations. She blew every one of those out of the water. She ripped off every itchy, painful, uncomfortable label that she had been given. She defied them and refused them and she defined what she would do and what she would be. She continues to do that.

I continue to do that and my dad continues to do that. At his age he continues to rebuild and works and does things that other men his age are not doing. He refuses to be defined by labels.

I want to encourage you to defy labels whether it’s a label that somebody else gave you, whether it’s a label you read in a book, a label you’ve assigned yourself, or maybe a label that somebody didn’t give you that you desperately wanted.

I did not get the label Most Likely to Succeed. I did not get the label Prettiest Smile, Most Likely to be Onstage, Best Dressed. I didn’t get any of those labels and guess what? I went ahead and created my label and I wear it proudly.

[End of Transcript]
What label will YOU choose?

Motivation doesn’t last long

We’re continuing with the “M” principles that are important for you to apply to your business (and for your life too). Last time we talked about mindset. If you missed that one, go back and spend some time there. Your mindset is like a foundation for the rest of the M’s and I want you to get the most out of this series.

Today we are tackling motivation and why YOU are the only one who can move yourself to action. I want you to QUIT waiting for motivation to come.


No one else can do it for you. It won’t show up at your doorstep or arrive each month like a magazine subscription or auto-ship vitamins.

You may be thinking, but Carrie, I NEED you to motivate me! What gives?

The truth is, I CANNOT motivate you.

I can inspire you, sometimes even persuade you into getting rid of your excuses but I can’t be the one to motivate you. Only YOU can do that for yourself.

Motivation means “move to action”.

You are the only one who can:

  • pick up that pen,
  • pick up the phone, or
  • pick up your feet and start moving yourself to action.

YOU are the only one who can motivate YOU.

Motivation is important, hugely important. I want you to find what motivates you and then keep on fueling that “thing” that I like to call your WHY so that you are continually moving to action.

I want you to live an extraordinary life and in order to do that, you must know what it is that fuels you to press on:

• when you are tired
• when you hit an obstacle
• when others think you’re crazy for doing what you’re doing.

I remember learning in school that there are basically two types of motivation: Extrinsic and Intrinsic.

  • Extrinsic or External Motivation is based on either receiving a positive gain or avoiding a negative outcome.
  • Intrinsic or Internal Motivation is when you are motivated by an internal desire because you enjoy the behavior in and of itself. You want to keep doing it because you enjoy it and that’s that.

I challenge you to spend some time thinking about what motivates you both extrinsically and intrinsically. Find your WHY and let that be what moves you to action on a daily basis.

Perhaps you aren’t really motivated just by making more money (most of us aren’t) but you are motivated by the choices that making more money affords you.

You may want to help someone else with a cause they believe in, pay cash for something coming up like the dress, hair, nails, and shoes for your daughter’s prom, or maybe you wish you could pay for private school or a nicer place for your parents to live??

Maybe you want to fund adoptions, help out your sister who is a single mom or secretly fund a scholarship for a teen that wants to go to a fine arts camp.

Find your WHY and then post it everywhere so you can continually fuel the fire and keep moving forward. I’m being literal here.

• Write it down…on actual paper
• Put it on a post-it in your planner
• Post it on your message board in your office
• Write it with a dry-erase marker on your bathroom mirror (or lipstick, whatever 😉
• Make it your screensaver on your computer

Your why needs to be right in front of your face and at the top of your mind for you to keep moving forward. The more you see it, the more you believe it and until you start believing it is really possible, you will have a hard time jumping out of bed each morning and getting to work on those goals.

Each and every day as you shower off the grime, the disappointments, the “no’s”, I want you to think of your WHY and intentionally “put on” your motivation for moving forward to places that only you can take yourself to. Stop telling yourself that motivation is someone else’s responsibility and start moving yourself to action.

You can do this.

Let me hear from you in the comments below if you KNOW what MOTIVATES YOU!! I’d love to hear some of your tips for staying focused and motivated!