When I first got into business an iconic veteran in our industry told me “only half the people will like you if you’re doing your job.” I found her to be right, and wrong. I work hard to make it less than half but it’s still essentially true that in business when you are an advocate for one side you could be less liked by the other. When it comes to people liking me, the same icon told me “you gotta be like a duck, let it all roll off your back“. I found that to be much easier said than done.
Two decades since that wisdom, I authenticate it’s truth with my own experience. This was a hard lesson. I really struggled with taking stuff personally, altering my behavior and core beliefs, not knowing how to do the right thing because of the influences of desiring admiration and wanting to be liked, wanting to fit in.
I slowly learned admiration and likeabilty has two forms, short term and long term. You can earn it for a moment, or an hour, or a day. Or, you can earn longer term, more authentic admiration. I’ve experienced that to earn the longer term you have this period of time that’s really hard and confusing. I find I have to proceed almost invsiably at first, my good intentions get bombarded with disdain and self doubt and an inner pull to conform. This time is often filled with people not believing in you, questioning you. Maybe even temporarily pulling away from you.
But when I keep going, when I really do the right thing and stick to my core, a moment comes when the heads turn back your way, when an inner recognition shows up within me that I know I’m on the right path. Over and over again, when the rubber meets the road, the same people who questioned me turn to me… including myself.
Robin Sharma says, “You can inspire the world. Or you can be liked by all. You don’t get to do both.”
Today, believing this and acting with this awareness, this is the work.