What Other People Think
By Jacey Eckhart
My friend Jeanne called me to task a few weeks ago. “What’s all this about a Next Door Project? How can someone like you have trouble getting a job?”
Jeanne is a very direct person. I’ve known her for 30 years. She has never let me get away with a single lame answer. My lame answer boiled down to this:
Someone like me has trouble getting a job because I don’t want the kind of job other people think I should have.
Other people are your little helpers.
Jeanne scoffed at this when I told her. She and my mother picture me giving speeches behind a podium and flying to important meetings and deciding policies and sitting on boards for Significant Charitable Organizations and I don’t know what-all.
They are adorable. Everyone should have at least one Jeanne and one Judy Eckhart on her side.
What Jeanne and my mom don’t know is if I ever have a terrible car accident and I wake up sitting in a meeting on a Friday afternoon, I will know I have died and gone straight to hell. Anyone who has ever worked with me will tell you I am unable to sit quietly in a meeting without interrupting with my thousands of ideas and insights and possibilities. I also cannot sit still after 3 p.m. Ants in the pants is a serious problem in professional environments, lemme tell ya.
What other people think of you is none of your business.
As much as Jeanne always thinks the best of me, she also knows my worst flaw. She told me more than once, “What other people think of you is none of your business.”
Which is true, I admit, but hard to cling to when you are wandering around the hallway looking for your Next Door.
When I close my eyes, let go of what other people think and only listen to myself, I know what I want. I want to fill my life basket with the things I do best. I want to write a lot. I want to sell what I write. I want to coach people through their Next Door Projects. AND I want a regular part-time training gig where I’m standing in front of a group of real live people teaching them something epic. My life basket fills up at the prospect.
Then I realize that to other people I must sound like a squirrel pushing around a grocery basket full of random nuts. My eyes pop open. OH NO!!! I WANT THE WRONG THINGS!!!!
Jeanne is shaking her head at me right this minute. Poor little squirrel.
I think one of the hardest parts of the Next Door Project is coming to terms with the truth of what someone like you really wants. When it comes to work, maybe someone like you goes for the money and the status and you have to pay for it with lots of billable hours and Friday afternoons in meetings and that is okay.
Or maybe someone like you scores a job that includes a lot of sunshine and tequila, but you pay for that with less job security and a risk of skin cancer.
Or maybe someone like you takes the job that puts you in front of a real live audience every week, status be damned.
I feel sure of this right now because someone like me got the job I wanted most—thanks to my jaunt down to North Carolina. Someone like me is going to be teaching veterans in person to get their first job after the military. And the life basket of this little squirrel runneth over.