No matter how mild mannered you are, I’m sure there are people out there who you vehemently disagree with. You may keep it to yourself, but you’ll certainly ignore everything they say.
Also, no matter how positive you are about your life, I’m sure there are people out there who look like they live such an effortless life that it’s annoying. While you struggle, even slightly, there’s always someone else who looks like they’re having a better and more successful time than you.
We compare on a regular basis. And it’s not just objects and concepts. We compare ourselves to others and we compare our situation to others.
But the only person we really know is the person we live with 24/7. I know me. You know you. We can’t go further than that. At least, not until mind-reading is developed on a total scale. And I imagine that’ll bring the end of the world anyway, because we won’t like hearing what everyone else is thinking!
Of all the people you like, look up to, and respect, you probably do so because you agree with a lot of what they do. You may even see a bit of yourself in those people when you make comparisons. Perhaps you try to emulate them from time to time and don’t even notice yourself doing it. A lot of this is down to the contradiction known as the ‘comfort zone’. It makes you feel good in the short term and it doesn’t stretch you.
Who do you look to when trying to break out of that ‘comfort zone’?
What about the people you don’t gel with? What about those you disagree with? What about the ‘effortless’ people who don’t appear to try?
These people are sometimes the best characters to turn to when you want to improve your own circumstances. Here are four reasons why:
- You need a challenge – If you only find people who tell you what you want to hear, you’re not doing anything to push yourself forward. Not everyone is like you. A person’s difference isn’t a weakness and it isn’t necessarily wrong. Sometimes it takes an opposing view to get you out of a rut or help you open up the bigger picture. You may still not agree after listening, but it should help challenge your own thought process and give you more scope in the long run.
- Everyone has something worthwhile to say – However accomplished you are, you need to listen to other people. People from all backgrounds, cultures, viewpoints. A specialist in any subject/career, will get people on board who specialise in things that they don’t. And the most committed (and likely, successful) specialists will look to other specialists in their own field, to find new ideas and possibilities. They’ll come together to debate the future, to understand difficult concepts, and to uncover issues that they hadn’t considered themselves. A specialist in the same field may be the competition, but that’s likely to mean what they say is more worthwhile, not less. A real genius doesn’t pretend to know everything.
- The ‘effortless’ people try harder than you think – There’s no such thing as ‘overnight success’. Perhaps a random lottery win or one-in-a-million fluke. For most people, success happened overnight after many months, if not years, of work. You’ll see one side to these people, but unless you become that person (hint: you won’t), you can’t fully grasp the difficulties they face. And I bet some of their challenges are over issues that don’t phase you one bit. Read the autobiographies of successful people you think have it so good and you’ll probably be surprised at what they’ve had to face.
- People you disagree with can often provide valuable advice – I’ve already mentioned above that we’re all unique. We have opinions and viewpoints and they make us who we are. When someone suggests something that sounds wrong, ask yourself why it sounds wrong and question how bad things would be if you went down that route. Would it truly be the end of the world? Does your thought process suddenly uncover a problem that you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise? Before you dismiss so-called ‘bad’ advice, let it make an impact on you so you have good reason to dismiss it. You may realise there’s more in the advice than you first thought.
If you’re surrounded by people who agree with everything you say and do, it’s easy to lose touch with reality. The ‘comfort zone’ leads you down a dangerous path, which ends up being rather less comfortable than you’d imagined.
So don’t ignore a critic. Faced with a critic, you’ll either learn about flaws that will help you improve, or you’ll have the energy and knowledge to prove them wrong.
“Most leaders will receive criticism at some point or another. The strength of their leadership is often how they respond to that criticism.”
Who has helped you push through difficulty, despite differences?