Conquering the Haters

power hand image

My 2017 New Year’s message that I published on my Entrepreneurial Journey Facebook page, included a heartfelt “thank you” to all the haters I encountered throughout my life.

For those of you who saw it, you would no doubt be familiar with “haters”. The analogy I use is that haters can see you walk on water, and say it’s because you can’t swim. No matter what you do, and no matter how well you treat others, you’re attacked, criticised and ostracised. Some people just want to bring you down and will do whatever it takes.

For a significant part of my adult life, there have people who have tried to stop me in my tracks. As a young “woman” (but more accurately, girl) in my early 20s, when I first experienced the haters, it was a complete shock for me to realise that there are so many people out there who want to cause you harm. And even more shocking, was that in some cases, it came from people I didn’t expect; people who I envisaged to be supporters and allies throughout my life.

To give you an insight to who I am, I completed my university degree by the age of 20. I was engaged at 22 and married at 23 in what many would describe a “fairy tale wedding”. At almost the same time that I said yes to my husband’s marriage proposal, I had landed a dream job that many of my colleagues came to envy; getting paid to go on holidays and then write about my experiences for well known tourism magazines. At 24, I had just become an aunt for the first time to a gorgeous little girl, and not long after I turned 25, my dad died very suddenly, which changed life as I knew it. Yes… that’s a lot of major life-change in a short period of time!

When I lost my dad, the void that was left was comparable to a meteor crater. Perhaps it was because he and I shared many similarities in how we thought and behaved. We both liked to achieve big things and pursue our dreams. He seemed to understand me more than anyone I knew. My father also happened to be the most generous and kind hearted man; extremely social, outgoing, popular, intelligent and well known in the business community. He was the backbone of my family and was a very successful business owner and property developer who was respected and admired by many.

During my early 20s, my family benefited from the years of hard work associated with my father’s company, with regular dinners out and international holidays. I guess you can say, we were living the high life. It was a wonderful time in my life that I’ll never forget.

Quickly I learned that the happier you are and the more you enjoy life, the more others hate and envy you. It doesn’t impact me now, of course. I’ve seen the worst and been dealt the worst, and I’m still standing. But back then, as a young and naïve girl, it took a lot of strength to not only withstand the senseless “hate assault” I experienced over many years, but it also took some serious soul searching to ensure that it didn’t negatively impact on my self-esteem or adversely change who I was.

At my wedding in 2003, my father told everyone in his father-of-the-bride-speech, “Alana’s determined. She’s extremely determined.”

And this one character trait, that my dad revealed to everyone on my wedding day (thanks, Dad), is the one trait that has got me through. I was determined to never become one of the “haters”. I was determined to never be resentful. I was extremely determined to be ‘unaffected’ by these Little People (the term my father used to describe the haters). I was determined to be the person I was brought up to be and I was determined to use these negative experiences to make me wiser, stronger and smarter than ever before.

The brilliant spin-off is that I have become very resilient to haters. They have driven me to do more, be more and achieve more, for which I am most grateful. I’m not afraid of them or what they can do to me. The only thing they can do successfully is drive me to fly higher. There is so much freedom and power associated with this position that many will never know.

My history has been a great training ground for entrepreneurship; a place where haters are renowned for “showing up”. As an entrepreneur, you will always be a target for haters. Expect it and be ready for it, and then use it as fuel to succeed. Why feel sorry for yourself and be the victim, when you should be thankful and flattered that people are scared of what you can achieve?