This week, I had to put together a report for a customer and because it was the first report of its kind that our company produced, it was very hard for me to write. I struggled with it and then when I was talking to a friend about the report, she said, what if you didn’t care about the result? After she asked that question, a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I was worried about who was going to read the report, what they would think of the report, and thus, what would they think of me. That final thought was what was holding me back from writing the report.
It was funny, once I stopped “caring” about the report, the information that should be in the report started flowing and I had a hard time continuing the conversation with my friend. It was amazing. The hard part was that I actually had three reports to write and information for all three reports began to flow into my thoughts at the same time.
Now, I am not talking about not caring about the quality of the work that you produce or do, I am talking about caring what others will think you because of the work you produced. No mater what you produce, it is not you, it is what you produced. I believe we should always try and produce the best we can with the information and skills that we have.
Once I finished what I thought should be in the report, I sent the report off to several people for review and one person did not like the report. He said, the conclusions were weak, the writing was fair, and several other comments. Initially, I took all the comments personally and wanted to hide from the fact that I wrote the report as I do not believe he knew that I wrote the report.
After sitting with the comments for a while, I had to admit to myself that I know the conclusions needed something, but after staring at the conclusions for that long, I could not understand what they needed and this person did point out some information that should be included the conclusions.
I did not want to reply and say that I wrote the report, and I wanted to delay that reply as long as possible, but also knew that I was not going to be able to sleep with that hanging over my head. So, right before going to bed, I started a reply. I stood up and thanked the person for the comments and told him I wrote the report and knew the conclusions needed something and his comments helped me see what they needed. I will admit that writing the reply seemed to take forever without blaming somebody else or make excuses for the work. After sending the reply, I could still feel some of the weight of “what is he going to think of me?”, but I breathed into it and asked, “was it me that replied, or was I trying to appease him?” and I got it was me answering truthfully, without hiding or blaming, and I was able to go to sleep.
I know today that I am going to re-write the conclusions with the input. I feel more information flowing after getting the feedback and not taking it personally. It was hard not to wallow in self pity over the comments, but once I knew they were not personal attacks, or at least I believed they were not personal attacks, I was able to use the comments to gain insights into what needed to be in the report and I will make the report better.
So, how would your life change if you did not care what people thought about you? Now, really take a look at how you define you. Do you define yourself as your work product? Do you define yourself in what you think people see in you? What if you did not care about what people thought about what you did? Maybe you can see their comments as ways to remove a block in you to make your work better? Is it possible? Maybe their comments have nothing to do with you and you should ignore them? From my experience, it is not easy, but so much better when I can remove people caring about what I do and just do.
Let me know what you think below.