Thursday, May 6, 2010

What you think of me is none of my business.

When I was a teenager, a homeless man approached me in the subway under Downtown Chicago. I was simply waiting for the next train to take me Uptown and, out of the blue, in a very animated voice, he said, “What you think of me is none of my business!” I was taken by surprise, mostly because I wasn’t sure I thought anything of him until that moment and secondly because it was so unexpected. It took a long time for me to digest his words, and it finally occurred to me that he was absolutely right.

As important as it is to consider others in your quest for purpose, at the end of the day, you are the one that has to look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Am I proud of what I did today?” If you honestly feel good about what you did, that it was in the best interest of your family, your friends, your employer, your clients, and your community; that you treated everyone with respect and dignity, then you don’t have to worry about what others think of you. They will have no reason to develop a negative opinion.

What others think of you is completely and totally within your control. You are in charge of the opinions others form of you. Every day, every moment, you make decisions that shape your life and have an effect on the relationships you choose to develop. If you choose to make decisions that build trust, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship, then people will have no choice but to think positively when you cross their mind. On the other hand, if you make decisions that damage your character, then people will form negative opinions. If you are concerned about what others think, you must examine your behavior and make some modifications.

You see, when you do what you say you are going to do, and you develop the pillars of character, you will be in a better position to do some self-examination. You can reflect on the areas of your life where you need to make changes and develop your personality further. And, you will find, that others will be more willing to help you in that effort. People like people they can trust, and they can only trust people who are true to themselves.

So, what you think of me is none of my business starts to make sense when you know that you have done nothing to cause another to form a negative opinion. If you focus your energy and your efforts on making good decisions and doing what is right all the time, and someone still finds something negative to say or think about you, then who cares? You can’t take that personally.

In the context of finding a job, it is essential that you have strong relationships. You have certainly heard the cliché, “It’s not what you know, but who you know that counts.” In so many ways this is true. Most people find their next job because they know someone, and not because they are the most qualified. In fact, many positions are posted with someone already pre-identified as the person that will get hired, but because of the labor laws, companies are required to make the position public. If you are looking for the best job, you have to have relationships with people that are more than skin deep. No one wants to help you more than people who consider you a friend.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great piece! It definitely prompts introspection!