Two weeks ago, I had a personal misunderstanding get blown out of proportion which led to an all-out war. It was an ugly situation that I’m not really proud of, but in the middle of it, I was reminded of a great lesson my grandfather taught me when I was a kid in trouble in school.
When I was in middle school, anytime I got in trouble and had to stay after school, I would walk to my grandparents’ house across the river from the school. It was never much of a punishment because I loved hanging out with my Grandpa on his closed in porch while he drank wine and watched CNN.
During a particularly hard stretch, it seemed like I was there every day and Grandpa could see that I was getting in quite a bit of trouble. One day, he asked me why I couldn’t stay out of detention and I told him what I thought was the truth: My teacher didn’t like me. Looking back now, I am just as positive about that situation as I was then, but by telling him that fact, he laid one on me that has shaped my worldview of dealing with people.
“Just because people don’t like you,” he told me, “is no excuse for you to not like them.” At the time, this seemed to be quite deep for an eighth-grade kid, but he was right. My teacher might not like me, but her opinion of me was none of my business and shouldn’t have effected my feelings towards her.
Fast forward twenty years or so, and his lesson still has merit. In this little war that’s been created, I have found that there are some people that don’t like me. It leaves me with two choices; not like them back or go with Grandpa’s advice and not let their opinions of me effect my feelings towards them. While the first might be satisfying, it is ultimately pointless. My best option moving forward is to continue to like people whether they like me or not. Their opinions are none of my business.
I pass all of this along in this post not to play myself up as some saint that loves everyone. I don’t. I also don’t try to hold my Grandfather up as some symbol of genteel charm. He wasn’t. I tell these stories because they illustrate an important point. If we let others feelings and opinions of us get in the way of how we deal with them, we will lose. Winning is too important to me for me to let minor feelings interfere with it.
Churchill once famously said:
“You have enemies? Good! that means you’ve stood for something.
He was probably right, but so was my grandfather and by not letting those enemies effect the way we deal with people is a great way to keep our executive image.