A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to witness a debate. I am unsure of how it began. But, there was talk about how a person’s identity was tied to their job title.
The most common question in the world is “How are you?” The second most common question is “What do you do?” We often answer the second question with our job title. What happens if we lose our job. Do we now not do anything? Do we lose our identity? Are we not ourselves?
In another instance, a friend narrated an observation. He noticed that only certain people in his office refill the coffee pods stand, or replace the water in the fridge. These tasks are not difficult to perform. There is a person dedicated to ordering water and coffee. But, once the shelves are stocked, everybody uses them. After using a coffee pod, all one has to do is open the shelf above the pod and replace the used one with a new one. A simple matter of common courtesy for the next user. But, you’d be surprised how many people don’t.
Why do you suppose this happens? Do people think it’s beneath their dignity to perform menial tasks? You do it at home, so why not at work? Are we worried about other people seeing us do such things and then think less of us?
When we are walking down the street and find an orphaned $20-bill on the ground, we jump to pick it up before anyone else does and pocket it. We feel happy and elated. But, we don’t even give a second glance to the empty wrapper lying next to it. Granted, it wasn’t your trash, but are we too good to simply pick it up and throw it in the bin? Are we worried about others laughing at us, or see us as “garbage man”?
In my humble opinion, we increasingly tie our self worth to other people’s opinion about us.
If other people don’t think we’re good enough, does that automatically make us bad?
There are two things that happen when we tie our self worth to other people’s opinions or a certain status-quo.
- We find ourselves doing only things that others will approve of regardless whether we enjoy it or find beneficial to our long-term well being or not.
- We become too fragile and afraid of failure.
Have you considered letting go of what other people think about you? Try it out. See what happens.
You will notice some changes. In the beginning, you will be very conscious of others watching you. But, do it anyways. As it becomes more of a habit, you will find yourself at ease into doing simple courteous things for yourself and others.
But, something else, completely amazing happens too. As Nassim Taleb calls it, you become anti-fragile. When you lose a job, you won’t get affected much. When someone laughs at you, you won’t feel bad. In fact, you might even start laughing with them.
It becomes easy for you to rebound from setbacks. In fact, you will start to see setbacks as setups for comebacks.
Let go of tying your self worth to other people’s expectations of you and free yourself from the shackles.
Try it out. It’s a lot of fun.