President Trump and the need for Validation


The media are currently discussing the latest 'tell-all' book about President Trump today. Specifically his relationship with his father. But the need for validation is common in life, but is it healthy, how can we overcome it'?

In the above video (recorded live on LinkedIn), I share my journey from the need for validation to self-leadership. As an Executive Coach, I often find what holds my clients back from their full potential is a pattern of seeking validation.

The Need for Validation

When we are born, we can do nothing useful but are loved by our parents for just being. Just being human in itself has value, and how much we appreciate that value is the measure of our Self-esteem. BUT, and here's the rub, when we go out into the world, to school, to college, to work, we are not appreciated for just being, we are measured for our doing. 

We have been conditioned to perform. From the encouragement to take our first faltering steps, and successful potty efforts, to school artwork and a good math grade. When we got a sticker, a "well-done", or an 'A' on a test we felt the warm experience of validation.

Where Validation Goes Wrong

Early childhood experiences set us up to look for validation as adults, however, this can lead to problems if:

  • We confuse our human-being (self-esteem) with our human-doing (confidence)
  • We fail to learn to self-validate and so always look for an authority figure
  • We were validated for the wrong things by dysfunctional parents, and perpetuate this into adulthood

Developing Self-leadership

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." 
1 Corinthians 13:11

Growing up, leading yourself, and effectively leading others entails developing intrinsic motivation and the ability to know when you have done work. When you have achieved this level of self-leadership you are freed from the manipulations of others and can become an influencer yourself.

Working with a mentor or a coach can accelerate this process, as they can challenge you to identify your core values and to live and work intentionally. When you can clearly and confidently say, "I am enough" you will experience a liberation that will allow you to achieve so much more.

Lessons from President Trump

I'm not an American, my vote doesn't count, but I have many clients who did vote for Donald J. Trump with hopes for a disruption of the 'Washington Elite' and a Pro-business environment. I will let history decide if President Trump delivered what he promised. What I will comment on, is the interesting title of Mary Tump's book - Too Much and Never Enough.

Donald Trump has, arguably, achieved the highest position on the planet, yet he still appears to crave validation. Constantly referring to himself and his successes in hyperbolic terms signify that he is not yet satisfied. His niece Mary, a psychologist, gives us the clue to this 'hole that can't be filled' - Trump's relationship with his father. It would be natural to feel empathy for a little boy, who could gain validation, not for who he is as a human being, but for what Fred Trump Snr wanted him to be. But, President Trump is no longer a little boy and he needs to put away childish things if he is to do his job as a leader.

President Trump's tweeting 'tantrums' are a lesson for us all. Know that you are enough, don't play the victim, focus on being the best version of yourself, and add value to others. When you do these things you will be universally respected and admired.

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