When it comes to building self confidence, whose opinion really matters? In the fast-paced, approval-seeking world we live in today, it’s easy to loose focus on that and forget the real answer.
With that said, ever have one of those moments when you accomplish something really great, and you’re really proud of yourself and excited, but no one else seems to be?
The type of moments where you can’t wait to rush out and tell everyone you know and love what just happened. When you do though, the people around you just seems to shrug it off with a, “That’s nice”, or a causally unimpressed and insincere, “Good job” as they turn away.
Well, a few months back I had one of those exact moments. Having just received extremely positive feedback on a project that I worked long and hard on, a challenge that pushed me mentally, and emotionally as well, I experienced one of these self-confidence checks.
You know the kind. One of those projects we all come across now and then that is a real gut-check to see what we are really made of. The type of projects that outwardly and mentally everyone ‘knows’ we can handle, but inside we even question ourselves if we can do it. Yeah. One of those beauties.
So after weeks of intense study, preparation, and work, the project was delivered on-time and resulted in a greater return than anyone involved expected. It was a BIG success for me not only professionally, but personally as well. I was feeling great. So what do we do when we’re happy? We share those moments with the ones we love.
What happened next boggled my mind for days, caused me to really examine myself and the situation, and taught me the valuable life lesson that day that I am about to share with you. Maybe you learned this lesson years ago, or maybe you’re like me and heard the words, knew it was true, but it hasn’t ‘sunk in’ yet. Either way, I hope this story helps it to ‘sink in’ for you too, or at least give you a good laugh at my expense.
So like I said above, on this day I had just received news of what I perceived as a BIG accomplishment and shared this with loved ones around me. They did not seem impressed in the least. In fact, they were so disinterested they did not even make eye contact.
With a wounded ego, I was frustrated and a little hurt. So I waited a few minutes then brought up the subject matter again in a pitiful attempt to get a positive response (Embarrassing, isn’t it? We’ve all been there though. Don’t act like you haven’t done it too ;0).
Now, seemingly bothered by my neediness, they stopped their conversation, looked at me like I was being ridiculous, and said with a hint of annoyance in their voice, “Good job Dave. We knew you would do it. We didn’t expect anything less.” Then they turned their heads and went back on with their discussion. As I walked away from the group, I was totally conflicted, annoyed, and confused-all at the same time.
“How should I feel?” I asked myself. “What’s going on here? Don’t they see what we were just able to accomplish?” “Am I making too much of this?” “Have I really become this needy, or are they completely self-absorbed and don’t care?” (internal screaming here- “Ahhh!”). All of these questions and more raced through my mind in a split second of frustration.
How could they act so causally? I mean, to me and the party involved this was a really BIG deal. The project challenged me in areas that I wasn’t confident in myself. A personal victory far beyond a professional win. Yet at the same time, I should be happy right?
I mean, think about it. They had such total confidence in me that they never questioned my performance and ability to complete the task for a second. So much confidence in fact that failure never even crossed their minds.
The big question at hand then is, Should I be happy for a group of people that believes in me so much failure isn’t on the table in their minds? Or, Should I be angry that they didn’t even try to acknowledge my personal triumph and congratulate me? (Again, inner screams!)
Before we answer that question, it gets worse.
The Table of Revelation
So about an hour later, after sulking privately to myself, I was asked to complete a simple manual labor task. It was to find someone to help me move a heavy table set down a long stairway into a storage room. Again, nothing earth shattering, just get’er done type of stuff that we all pitch in to handle sometimes. The stuff that no one gets glory over, no pay grade is too high or low, just the small projects of life that need to be done so progress can happen.
Already feeling low and unmotivated, I went over to look at the table to see what would need to be done in order to move it later in the day. When I got there though, it seemed to me that if I held it just right I could lift it myself, carry it down the stairs, and knock this simple task out without having to bother anyone else. So I did.
First I moved the table top, then the base, then the chairs that surrounded it. Five minutes later- done. Without even thinking twice about it, I walked back in the room where everyone was still socializing lazily and asked them if anything else needed to be done before I left for the day. They all stopped immediately in their conversation again, but this time looked at me with an expression I will never forget. They were like, “What?! You already moved that table? Who helped you? How did you do it so fast? Are you ok? That’s amazing!” I mean, they acted like I just broke an Olympic world record that stood for 100 years. Or that I just saved someones live by performing brain surgery with a butter knife and some dental floss. It was crazy!!
After reassuring myself that I wasn’t loosing my mind, in a dream, or in the Twilight Zone, I thought long and hard about what just happened. It boggled my mind that I could complete a task with such great value and receive little-to-no praise. Yet I complete a task that has little value, one that almost anyone with arms and legs could complete, and people go crazy with excitement. Leading me to the conclusion:
Opinions are like armpits, everyone has them and most of them stink!
Yes, that’s right. While their is much wisdom in counsel, strength in numbers, and comfort in good friends, at the end of the day I realized that there are very few opinions that matter in life. People will perceive things, whether we like it or not, through their own filter- clean or crazy.
Based on that truth, here’s the list and priority order of whose opinions matter most to me after that strange day:
- God’s. More than anyone else opinion, even my own, He is the one I want to please most. When I face Him someday soon, I want to be unashamed.
- My Own. Everyone else goes home at the end of the day. I’m the guy that I have to live with 24/7/365. When I look in the mirror, I need to be proud of myself and know I’ve done my best, and accept my best.
- My Spouse’s. A good spouse loves us, supports us, and is by our side everyday. They deserve to have a spouse that does their best and they can be proud of.
- My Children’s. Kids look up to their parents, good or bad. Even in the worst of relationships, everyone deep down longs to win the approval of their parents. My children are amazing, special, and look to me as a living example of how they should be. Words go inches, but actions go miles. I need to be the man they can look up to and be proud of. Someone who reflects Christs love and motivates them to do likewise.
- My Client’s/Employers. My personal goal in business is to not just win clients, but life-long friends. People trust me enough to hire me and I don’t want to let them down. My heart is to exceed their expectations so far that they know I’m legit, care about them personally (not just their money), and build a trusting friendship for years to come.
- Everyone Else. If you know me personally, you know I love people. However, this lesson really taught me that no matter how hard we try,
We can’t please everyone.
Saying that, I’m going to do my best to please the above list, and in that order. Anyone else we can help after that is a blessing- the proverbial icing on the cake.
Well, that’s my crazy story for the day. Hope you enjoyed it, can relate, and it helped you too to see that as long as we are doing our best each day, it doesn’t really matter what ‘most people’ think.
It only matters what You and ‘your people’ think.
Have a great week, hope this article helps you grow, and thanks for sharing part of your day with me!
Helping You Ascend,
David Pasqualone, MA
Scripture to Consider:
- Proverbs 11:14
- I Samuel 16:7
- Ecclesiastes 4:12
- John 15;13-15
- James 2:23
What Lesson did You Learn?
Is there a life lesson or story that this article reminded you of that we can all glean from? If so, please comment below or send me an email. I’d love to learn from you and hear how God is working in your life.