The advice I have been given more often in my life (other than to slow down when I speak!) is to not “take things personally”. It’s very difficult to implement advice like this because you are generally given it whilst in the throes of processing something that feels extremely personal! But when you have had some time to process whatever it is you’re going through, there is value in looking back and thinking – was that actually aimed at me, or was it more revealing of the other person’s state of mind?
I’m often told to just get on with my work – that it’s good to be passionate and tenacious – but caring too much is just painful and unhealthy. And yet, when I “take things personally”, I care about them far more than if I don’t have a personal connection. Admittedly that does mean that I can be more protective and defensive of perceived critique of my work, but it also means I will go above and beyond what is actually required for me to ensure success.
This website is a clear example of the difference I can see in myself when I am personally invested in a project – I am constantly thinking of ways to improve and add to this site. I have woken up at 6.30am, with ideas bouncing around so loudly that I’ve had to get out of bed and start typing! I’ve had numb fingers walking to work while choosing to type another post instead of putting my gloves on!
So what if caring so much was considered an asset rather than a hindrance? What if trying to change the way we work was not only easier but more effective than trying to change ourselves? Imagine how much more effective and efficient the world would be if everyone took their work “personally”?
If you don’t have time to watch it now, at least ask yourself these questions:
1. Why do you do the work you do?
2. What work can’t you not do today?
In preparing this post, I googled Scott’s name, just to add a link to more information about him and sadly learned that he passed away in September 2015. In the ultimate demonstration of how I do actually take things personally, I found myself crying over the death of a man I had never met, if only because his sole purpose in life was to motivate people to find the work they love. Life is short; let’s make it matter.