Your Opinion of me is none of my business.
My mother taught me this, for the first time, when I was about 12. Yup, I was at that glorious age when I knew everything was all about me, and that no one else had ever been so noble, righteous or brilliant as I was. (Even as I was falling apart inside over too many hormones!)
Of course, and rightly so, my Mum wasn’t about to let me get away with having a ‘smart mouth’ or making her wrong for all the imagined slights that I had to suffer.
I learned it again at 13; and 14. And finally, when I blamed her for not being supportive enough when my Dad died. He died when I was 6. And between then and much later on I built up a huge reservoir of resentment because my Mum hadn’t treated me the way I wanted.
Never mind that she had lost the love of her life. Never mind she had no intention of ever marrying again. Never mind that in the 60’s in Scotland, that was a pretty radical decision.
I eventually learned the value of what she was trying to teach me – she was teaching me to be independent, to make up my own mind. She was also preparing me for valuing inter-dependence; for having inner strength and for appreciating the humanity in myself and others.
My Mum is no longer alive, and every day I thank her for the learning, and every day, I find myself relearning the lesson, over and over. While I’m sure that my opinion of her still wouldn’t matter, my gratitude and love would.
Everyone has an opinion of a leader – especially when they don’t act in the way we expect, or demand. It is this ability to hold ‘your opinion of me’ without being swayed by it, that is one of the challenges of leadership.
How many times have you allowed yourself to be influenced against your better judgment?
What has it cost you? What did you gain?
And how are these two things balanced for you from a leadership perspective?