It’s always been my experience that you learn more about yourself when you focus on learning how to help others.
The road to becoming a better person is generally not without its potholes of frustration. Learning to navigate through those potholes and overcome the adversity that allows us to reach our goals can be daunting, but also rewarding.
One of the mental traps worth avoiding is the comparison to others.
Everyone I’ve ever met in life is flawed, yet some seem to be having an easier time than I. Experience has taught me another good one-liner:
Just because they’re better at something doesn’t make them a better person.
And that’s not intended as a line to tear down their accomplishments, but rather to simply acknowledge that maybe I don’t know them well enough yet to understand the challenges they face in life. This concept simply helps me avoid the mental trap of thinking that others are somehow better in general than anyone else.
No is a difficult thing to say and hear, but it’s one of the best answers you can give someone. It lets them know that a door they’ve been knocking on is closed. It signals an opportunity to move on.
It’s OK to move on.
If the door is closed the issue isn’t that it’s closed, it’s that the effort has to shift to something different, maybe unfamiliar or uncomfortable.
Despite your reluctance my guess is that you’ve dealt this different, unfamiliar, or uncomfortable before. You can do it again. Odds are at the end of it your reality will likely be far better than what you’d originally envisioned.
A few months ago I wrote about Project Management vs. Project Leadership. The dichotomy wasn’t perfect, but it can be informative. There’s also more to discuss. One thing that wasn’t considered in that original post was the relationship between a supervisor and the employees as intrinsic or extrinsically motivated individuals. In Daniel H. Pink’s Book, Drive he discusses how this difference impacts performance.
Extrinsically motivated individuals looks for external stimulus (positive or negative) in order to induce action. These are often seen as the carrot or the stick, and so much of our society is based on the idea that humans are sedentary and the only way to get them to do things is with either a promised reward or punishment.
Intrinsically motivated individuals are self-motivated. They like to solve the problems and puzzles in front of them for the sake of solving the puzzles. Daniel makes a compelling case for suggesting that we’re all naturally intrinsic beings who learn to be extrinsic based upon our experiences and in contrast to our nature.
An intrinsically motivated individual is going to respond to a project leader. An extrinsically motivated individual is going to respond to a project manager.
If it is in our nature to all be intrinsically motivated and we’ve only surprised this at some point then it would make sense that this intrinsic self of ours could be reinvigorated through the practice of project leadership.
I had someone try to tell me thank you for my work on a project recently. I had earned the compliment, but felt awkward accepting it. I didn’t do all the work. I was just part of a good a good team.
I needed a good response and despite how witty I might appear on this blog I’m not always quick witted. This is one of those exceptions. I actually thought of something good to say.
I told him that the amount of work I did compared to the amount of work the team did was really small and that I was grateful to be counted as a member of that team.
I recently spent time with family where instead of forwarding me an email chain family members were able to directly read from the website something they found interesting on the internet. We all do it! This particular version was a list of Christmas songs as viewed from the lens of political correctness. I’ll share the list from New Jersey 101.5 below:
1. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus: subjecting minors to softcore porn
2. The Christmas Song: Open fire? Pollution. Folks dressed up like Eskimos? Cultural appropriation
3. Holly Jolly Christmas: Kiss her once for me? Unwanted advances
4. White Christmas? Racist
5. Santa Claus is Coming to Town: Sees you when you’re sleeping? Knows when you’re awake? Peeping Tom stalker
6. Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Everyone telling you be of good cheer? Forced to hide depression
7. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Bullying
8. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas: Forced gender-specific gifts: dolls for Janice and Jen and boots and pistols (GUNS!) for Barney and Ben
9. Santa Baby: Gold digger, blackmail
10. Frosty the Snowman: Sexist; not a snow woman
11. Do You Hear What I Hear: blatant disregard for the hearing impaired
12. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas: Make the yuletide GAY? Wow, just wow
13. Jingle Bell Rock: Giddy up jingle horse, pick up your feet: animal abuse
14. Mistletoe and Holly: Overeating, folks stealing a kiss or two? How did this song ever see the light of day?
15. Winter Wonderland: Parson Brown demanding they get married…forced partnership
It’s reasonably funny and I was glad the family member shared it. As I thought about it though I started to see the mantle of political correctness as nothing more than an attempt to censor speech.
I’m not a fan of censorship. It generally goes against my principles.
As I was thinking about this list from the perspective of censorship I started to notice something else. Among my friends those who complain about political correctness are often the same to participate in a different type of censorship. Members of that same group are generally ones that are offended with the use of profanity in music and on television. I found this thought intriguing. If both are censorship how is one superior to the other? How does one decide which censorship to participate in and which to be offended by?
I think the right type of censorship isn’t about placing your rules on others. I think it’s about placing rules on yourself for what you’re willing to consume. Self censorship seems to be the best choice for society a healthy society. Let people group together where they find common ground of what is acceptable. I don’t have the freedom to force others to do things the way I want to, but I do have the freedom to abstain from those things that don’t add value.
Our selective censorship and wanting to force our rules on others is part of the condition we find ourselves in being human. It’s normal for us to want society to follow our rules, but the best long-term solution is simply to reject the parts of society that we don’t appreciate. Rejecting doesn’t need to be a passionate criticism of other’s choices. It can be a pleasant invitation for them to follow your example.