The Integrity Talks

People will try to squeeze you in their box of who they want you to be

The Integrity Talks

Some motivational thoughts on how people will try to squeeze you in their box of who they want you to be.

The lesson that took me the longest to learn, in terms of personal leadership and doing business, is to not get stuck in patterns of trying to win everyone over. In other words, to stop living to please people, stop being worried about what they would think, and to stop fighting pointless battles. I had to learn that people can function as major distractions, keeping me away from the work – whether being clients or personal assignments. Being extremely sensitive to injustice and wanting everyone to like me at all times, means that I had to change my mindset massively. I had to envision the goals to increase, and decide to focus on my own path. Even now, I find injustice quite challenging.

The biggest motivation is the realization that time is ticking. I am not here forever. Time flies, and I have many more assignments to finish, not knowing how long I will get to finish those. Likewise, I would benefit from a sense of urgency. So, I cannot keep on being distracted by the slightest matter of intrigue caused by others who are trying to keep me from my assignments. I simply lack the time to waste lying awake at night.

My time is too valuable to try to convince everyone that I really am okay. And believe me, I tried many times. Yet, those few never turned around, and magically accepted me more because of my efforts. I learned the hard way that I need to quit trying to convince people who are determined to misunderstand me. When they don’t want to be for me, it is heartbreaking, yet okay. I don’t need them to fulfill my assignments, even when they are working against me. They can only go so far. Because the right people always follow, who celebrate me and cheer me on; even better, who stick with me through thick and thin.

So when people are saying negative things about me, it is not my job anymore to straighten them out, even when they are trying to make me look bad. With time, I learned to train my discipline to not waste valuable energy. How’s that for a (previous) expert in reputation and stakeholder management, indeed? Because after I have straightened them out, someone else will start. Besides, nobody works against people who aren’t doing anything innovative. Nobody tries to discredit someone who does not have influence. The reason that they are talking is because that person is a difference maker.

If someone does not see the gift that you are, if they don’t recognize your essence, do yourself a favor and move on. Don’t try to fix situations like I did, even when it was never mine to fix. Because you don’t have to play up to people, let them manipulate you, and hope that they will include you in their group. The right people won’t stay away. They will go out of their way to lift you up. Likewise, you don’t have to let the takers abuse your giving.  

Keep your focus on your assignment. Feel the heartbreak, but know that you cannot worry about people who do not want to have peace with you. You have to think: you may have a problem with me, but I don’t have time to have a problem with you. Don’t try to make things happen that they don’t want to make happen.

This attitude is not the same as being disrespectful. It is being responsible for your own sanity. Because with some people, no matter what you do, it will never be enough. They will always look for faults, trying to make you guilty of something, or trying to take even more. Break away from these sorts of people, especially people in the dark triad. No one was created to be controlled and limited in pursuing what is in the heart. Besides, it is very freeing when you realize that you are not responsible for the comfort of others, only for your own happiness, health, success, and so on.

Here is the thing: if you live by the opinion of others, you will never become who you are meant to be because people will try to squeeze you in their box of who they want you to be. You cannot be a people pleaser and reach your potential, so start running your own race, and start doing new things. People get upset when you break out of the box, but break barriers anyway. Nobody has ever done anything great without doing this. Quit being afraid of the few, and new doors will open to the many.

The Dutch version of this article was published by Boom Management.