In the past few months, I’ve watched a few annual events on television that I usually enjoy very much – the Super Bowl, the NBA dunk contest, and the Academy Awards. And while I did have fun watching all of these once again this year, I noticed a theme that I found fascinating. Most of the commentary about each event was that they were “disappointing,” “boring,” or “not as good as they usually are.” And while clearly sometimes a sporting event or awards show can be more (or less) exciting based on the nature of how it plays out, I also think in today’s world of instant feedback, social media chatter, and computer-generated graphics, we’ve become more critical, negative, and even spoiled, to our own detriment.
I remember something a mentor of mine said to me a while back. “Mike,” he said, “there are two things you can do that will dramatically improve the quality of your career and your life. They’re simple, just not that easy.”
He went on to say, “The first thing is to be easy to impress. Be in awe of people, talent, nature, art, technology, work, and the world around you. Embrace a sense of wonderment, like a child does. There are so many extraordinary people and things around us all the time, we just don’t often stop to appreciate them and allow ourselves to be impressed.”
He continued, “The second thing, and this one is even harder, especially these days, is be hard to offend. In other words, don’t take things so personally and allow yourself to get offended so easily. Imagine, Mike, if you woke up tomorrow morning and said to yourself, ‘It’s going to take something enormous to offend me today.’ That would probably be a good mindset to take to work and out into the world, don’t you think?”
He then said to me, “Most of us, unfortunately, have these the other way around. Once we’ve lived a bit, gained some professional experience, or think of ourselves as somewhat sophisticated, we often get jaded. It takes something pretty remarkable to impress us. And, sadly, we get offended very easily and blame others for our stress, frustration, and disappointment.”
Then he challenged me, “Mike, I dare you to make a commitment to yourself to be easy to impress and hard to offend…and see what happens to your career and your life.”
I never forgot that conversation and his feedback. I think of what he said to me all the time, and try to follow his advice. While this is a pretty simple concept, I do find that it’s not all that easy to practice in our world today.
However, as I travel around the country and the world working with people, leaders, teams, and organizations of all kinds, it’s clear to me how important this mindset can be. Unfortunately, we often justify our lack of being impressed and how easily we get offended, instead of realizing all the ways these things hold us back.
Moving forward successfully in our lives and careers has a lot to do with how we see ourselves, others, and the world around us. While it may be easy to get caught up in the drama, stress, and negativity of those around us, our environment, or the world we live in, ultimately, we have a choice. And, if we choose to be easily impressed and hard to offend, it will have a dramatic and positive impact on our career and our life. Try it out…I dare you!
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