I’d rather have one thousand people against me
than me against my own soul.
-- St. Augustine
I would be a hypocrite to tell you I don’t enjoy it when others approve of what I do. It’s OK to enjoy approval in the same way you enjoy an ice cream cone. But if you need to eat ice cream to feel happy, you’ll stop enjoying it the moment you become conscious of your dependence.
Attending to a cone of raspberry vanilla will become a functional task you need to carry out to feel whole—like brushing your teeth or reporting for work. Just like ice cream, approval only becomes a problem when you transform it from a want into a need.
Other people can give you money, fishing poles, iguanas, old roller skates, and new shoes—but they can’t give you inner contentedness.
If you can’t get your approval from inside, neither will you get it from outside. And the more energy you futilely expend trying to sway the opinions of others, the less will remain to define your own.
Concentrate your mind on a situation where you may incur some disapproval over the next few weeks, such as drawing attention to a dysfunctional process at the office, or defending an unpopular friend, or taking up a new hobby. Then ask yourself, “Am I avoiding this situation because I’m afraid of my views not being accepted or of losing popularity?”
Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday each week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).