One of my favorite books, The Power by Rhonda Byrne, quotes Rene Descartes (French Mathematician)
“Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”
― George Bernard Shaw
I first saw this quote on twitter last week, and in full disclosure when I did my research, I found it attributed to several different people, but Mr. Shaw had the most votes, so he’s who I ended up going with.
So when I saw quote it spoke to me loud and clear. When someone is going through an injustice (that’s small to them, but big to you) everyone likes to say “pick your battles”, but that gives me little consolation when I know I am being wronged/mistreated and it’s making my everyday very challenging.
However, this quote shifts the focus from being wronged to avoiding joining a mess. It gave me a palatable alternative to jumping in there and setting the record straight (or really telling someone off, let’s be honest). If I don’t engage in gossip and backbiting, my character stays in tact, but if I chose to engage with challenging people, I will inevitably stoop to their level and I will reek of their character. So by “picking my battles” I’ll stay out of the mud and stay clean. Although I won’t have the satisfaction of engaging with certain people the way I’d love to, I’ll also be able to wear a metaphorical white outfit and keep it clean, in other words, keeping my integrity and character in tact.
Also, this quote helped me to realize that there is no way I could engage with challenging people and stay clean. I may start out clean (with good intentions), but by the nature of who they are, and how they play, I am bound to get really really dirty. And I don’t want that.
Wearing all white,
I’ve been getting a lot of advice lately. Let’s just say there are some interesting things going on in my life and lots of folks have lots to say (reminder to self: stop telling lots of folks). I was lamenting the fact that I felt dismissed, judged, and undervalued.
A mentor gave me one piece of (alarming) advice about the work place that stuck with me:
“Although unfair, everyday is an audition”.
I found two definitions of auditioning:
1-An interview at which a singer, actor, dancer, or musician demonstrates their suitability and skill.
2-A trial performance, as by an actor, dancer, or musician, to demonstrate suitability or skill.
I think we all know the first definition, but the first part of the second definition is that caught my eye. Auditions are a trial period where it is OK to be asked to demonstrate your skills. The thing I’d like to highlight is that it’s for a limited time –hence the word trial.
But some folks expect people to prove themselves everyday but that’s tiring! Right? Living everyday as on a trial performance is not healthy. But unfortunately, I had to agree with that sentiment. In some work circles there’s always this “thing” hanging over you about your reputation. Everything you do, say, and work you perform is always “shaping” your “reputation”. To me this means you are always auditioning, always proving.
When I mentioned this everyday auditioning advice to my hubby (he is always my sounding board and gives the best advice) he said I don’t need to buy in to that unhealthy thinking.
He said, let’s oversimplify to make a point: If you are the best cook, dancer, employee, blogger, or athlete ever and someone else shares this perspective, 50% will believe it and 50% won’t. The same is true in reverse, if someone passes along that you a horrible parent, dancer, singer, cook, there is a 50% chance that others will believe it and the other half won’t. Bottom line: there will be a group of people who believe that you are great and others who won’t, no matter what you do.
I think of the heated conversations men have about athletes illustrates this perfectly. You can take one athlete, say LeBron James, and one person who loves him lists stats and hurdles he’s overcome to convince others of LeBron’s greatness. But others, who know those same stats and watch the same games will disagree and call LeBron garbage. They will say he only can do what he does because of those around him (coaches and teammates) and they say he’s no good. Same athlete, same performance, very different perspectives.
So, if you are a person who cares about what folks think or even worse, thinks you can change how people perceive you, you are going through life auditioning–be it for a job or role you already have. You’ll always be trying to prove that you are worth your title.
I’m learning to focus on doing good work regardless of what others think. I will not keep auditioning for a job or a role I already have.
Changing my perspective,
Sometimes we need to be still. Let the dust settle, let the mud settle, and the chaotic-ness of the situation will clear up.
Stay inspired and move forward with your limitless possibilities!
If people aren’t laughing at your dreams then they aren’t big enough
I am not saying you should tell everyone your dreams, because they are precious, especially in the beginning. Protect your dreams, but make sure they are big enough so when you do tell people, they laugh–or at least raise their eyebrows in surprise. Your life matches your expectations. If you have small dreams, you’ll achieve small things. My hope for you is that you reignite your dreams and then go after them.
Keeping ’em laughing (including myself),