I was recently reading an interview with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the New York Times. She was quizzed about a number of things but I really loved her answer to the question: “In 2005 you went to see [a Broadway play] and the audience booed you. Does that happen a lot?”
“It happens on occasion and, you know what, I don’t care. I don’t care, because I did what I thought I could do in service of the country. I did some things well and some things not so well. There are always going to be a few people who don’t like what you did. I’m just really glad I don’t have to listen to them.”
How refreshing! Sometimes we worry so much about what other people think that we’re not even sure what we think. Sometimes we’re so concerned about making the wrong choice that we’re immobilized. Sometimes we look to others to validate our choices and goodness and lose sight of the opinion that really matters: our own. Do we need to be approved by others to approve of ourselves? Do we need validation of what we’re doing in order to feel we’ve made good choices? When we answer, “Yes,” to these questions, I suspect we’re spending entirely too much time in other people’s heads.
I’m making a pact with myself: I plan to simply be my best and let other people think what they may. If my best isn’t “perfect,” it’s still my best. If my best doesn’t please other people, it’s still my best. There’s no sense regretting or second-guessing my best—it just is.
When Condoleezza Rice was asked, “What do you consider to be the biggest [mistake] of your career?” She replied,
“You know, I’ve done pretty well. I don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on the past that way. I’m certain I can find many [mistakes]. It’s just not a very fruitful exercise.”
Thank you, Condoleezza. I hereby release my interest in opinions about me. I solicit productive advice when I need or want it, of course. As for trying to react to other peoples’ opinions, I give up! It’s enough to manage my own!