Nothing to Prove

Tracy Chapman

Tracy Chapman

You got a fast car
I want a ticket to anywhere
Maybe we make a deal
Maybe together we can get somewhere
Any place is better
Starting from zero got nothing to lose
Maybe we’ll make something
Me myself I got nothing to prove

– Tracy Chapman, 1988 –  Lyrics to “Fast Car”




You’ve heard all the cliches, “Show us what you can do.” … “Show them what you’re made of.”

What if you had nothing to show, nothing to prove?

Isn’t having the intention, to prove yourself, likely to “get in your head” and take you out of your game; preventing you from “playing within yourself?” – to use more cliches.

Okay, yes, we have to succeed in job interviews and auditions. These are often necessary aspects of career development. But, what if you didn’t feel as though you needed to try so hard? What if you viewed auditions, tryouts, and interviews as mere formalities?

What if you didn’t have the intention that you had to show or sell yourself to anyone? To that prospective date? To that needed opportunity? Rather, you already knew you were qualified, and that was enough.

What would happen if you didn’t need to show people that you are more successful than you are? What happens when we don’t try to “be” anything, but just give our sincere best effort? People can see through someone’s craving for attention and adoration. Can’t they?

What would happen if you didn’t have to show people how smart you are? At one time, that was me. I used to do that. As a boy, I was always told how smart I was and how much potential I had. For years, I tried to prove everyone right and show the world. Then, one day, I met this girl, in class.

She could recite the Canterbury Tales in Middle English, read Homer’s Iliad in a couple of hours, and then recall any passage by page number. She got paid for taking IQ tests in high school and received full academic scholarships to Harvard and Yale. This girl changed my world. My brain was probably closer to a monkey’s than to her’s.

I learned to stop arguing “who said what” because she could remember every word from every conversation. Eventually, I had given up trying to prove that I was smart.

In so many ways, it was liberating. Working to show everyone how intelligent I was proved to be a heavy burden to carry. At the time, I wasn’t perceptive enough to realize this weighted load until it was lifted. Now, I could just be me, with nothing to prove.

I could look into the mirror and see myself as the person I truly am. I’m not brilliant, not “amazing,” not even anything special. I’m just me; living this day with as much gratitude as I can muster; lucky to be above ground and have a family that loves me.

This revelation was the key to unlocking a door to a world I may never have discovered. That door was the promised end to self-delusion and denial. I am just a man; subject to all the trappings and mistakes of any other. I’m no better than the worst and no less than the best. We all share in the same humanity.

Did you know that often the most hurtful things people say to us are the things that that little voice of denial already knows? Try looking into the mirror and tell yourself what you may be afraid to admit. What’s your reaction? Don’t be afraid. It will free you.

So many of us get confused.  At times, we are impersonating who we think we are.

How much money, time, and effort do we spend on trying to convince ourselves that we’re something that we’re not? Couldn’t we be using those resources to improve our lives and others’ in a meaningful and real way?

Yes, there is some truth to the phrase: “Fake it till you make it.” Did you know that if you just smile, the muscles involved with smiling will send a message to your brain causing you to feel better? So, keep smiling.

But, how do you know when your chosen direction has gone on for too long? How do you know when you need to take a different path; one that is more feasible, tangible, realistic?

Some of us have that gene, many of us don’t. We are dreamers “following our bliss.” Right, Joseph Campbell?

Is the answer obtained by confronting the great American bottom line: “Is it making money?” Can all success be measured in money, though? No. We already know that.

Mark Wahlberg’s character Cade Yeager in Transformers: Age of Extinction comes to mind. (When you have children, you are exposed to things that you would never have sought out.) If Cade Yeager didn’t struggle to follow his bliss; building robots in his Paris, Texas barn, despite his financial failure, then he may not have been in the position to help save the world.

Is this story based in reality? Of course not! It’s fiction. But, we do have many real-life stories that can be plugged in as suitable examples. The list is in the millions. “But, soft! methinks I do digress too much.”

So, what happens when we don’t need to prove ourselves, be concerned with popularity polls, or image? We become one step closer to being authentic. We may decide to take a more accurate self-inventory, seeing our strengths and weaknesses more objectively.  It is the start that enables us to begin tapping into our true potential and abilities.



In Tibetan Buddhism, the Vajra Sword cuts through all illusion to get directly to the truth. There is a deliberateness, conviction, and authority to which the sword drops. It represents the actions taken with understanding and certainty.

With this certainty and understanding, we gain a new-found confidence in the directions we choose for ourselves, our businesses, and our families; without regret, remorse, or self-doubt.

We develop the vision to see thoughts, concepts, or things of this world that try to pull us from our core, our truth, our souls.

We bear witness to those rare moments of clarity, insight, and intelligence; recognizing what is deception and propaganda, misguiding values and untruths.

lion 2The Lion doesn’t need to prove that he is the King of the jungle. He just is. Let your roar be known from the Lion inside you. That’s when you will know and accept that there is nothing to prove.

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James Finn

Author: James Finn

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