Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Weight Of Opinion

This week I was horrified when a colleague told me that people she knew had laughed at her because she has recently been working through the Couch 2 5K program and is super excited to be running a Race For Life 5km. Not only that, she was able to skip forward on C25K because she was fit enough to do so. J is newly enthused with running and as the mother of 2 young boys has gained confidence in having some alone time as well as putting her money (trainers?!) where her mouth is in advocating sports and activity to her children too.

Me, when I was just starting out with running late 2014/early 2015

It's not just sports either. A few years back I interviewed for and was successful in a promotion at work. It's a little sad that it didn't shock me to later overhear speculation as to whether I'd screwed the manager to get it. Growing up with parents in business nepotism has always been another interesting encounter- knowing people wonder about who pulled strings for me despite working hard to build my own professional network wasn't the most encouraging thing to here whilst spending my summer breaks trying to gain admin, sales and other business skills.

The people who tell you that you can't, the ones who who think pursuing your goals, or dreams or the best version of yourself is a matter of personal entertainment, the offhand comments judging you because of your choice of dessert, the colour of your hair, the car you drive or your favourite song. Why do we care so much about them? Why does the opinion of others matter so much to us?

I ask this question not because I can give you a psychological analysis as to why human beings, in particular young women, set so much store by what other people think of them (not least because there are people far cleverer than me who can actually answer the question...) but because these contrasting situations have a common theme. The opinions of others say far more about the person expressing them than they do about the subject of their opinion and judgement- you.

The people who laugh at someone who is choosing to do something positive for themselves, even if it's difficult, they are frightened of failure.

The people who ridicule a person who puts themselves outside of their comfort zone are scared of change.

The people who assume that unexpected never happens do not dare to dream of grabbing an opportunity with both hands.

The people who assume nepotism or sexual favours are the only way to make drastic change in your own life do not understand the courage it takes to strive for a exceptional goal and cannot possibly understand the bravery it takes to discard all your life and personal plans to pursue a dream.

So what can you do about it?

There will always be someone who says 'you can't' or 'why would you bother' or someone who will mock your ambition. There will also always be people who will congratulate you, who will support you, people who will say- if you can, maybe I can too. Those are people who appreciate hard work, who understand courage, and just maybe some of them have been inspired by your own enthusiasm, passion and work ethic, something of which you should certainly be proud.

Surround yourself with people who don't laugh when you announce you're going to run a marathon when you can't yet run a mile, but instead offer to come with you for your ever increasing long runs.

Surround yourself with people who send you pictures of tigers when you're doubting yourself before an interview to remind you that you can roar (yes, Tom actually did that, I nailed it and scored the job of my dreams because I believed I could).

Be the person who says 'well done, this sounds like an incredible opportunity for you to get stuck in to'.

Be the person who asks if you can help someone in achieving their goal.

Be the person whose opinions of others say that you are strong, you are brave, you are courageous and that you are supportive of others.


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