A friend of mine said something to me the other day that resonated with me in a way very few things do these days. We were discussing my anxiety over a certain project and she said, “You’re just anxious about [the project] because you care.” (I’m paraphrasing.)
Okay – so it may not be such a moment for you, but it was for me. I do tend to get anxious about the outcome of things and she’s right, my level of anxiety is directly related to how much I care about the project or thing that I’m working on, or people the project will affect. The more anxious or stressed out I am, the more I care about what I’m doing. I never really thought about it in that way before, but…wow...I've definitely thought about it now.
It’s kind of wild (and maybe, if I am being honest, a little disconcerting) to have someone who isn’t me know me, in some ways, better than I know myself. If this person were just about anyone else, I might have brushed it off and not thought another thing about it. But my friend, being who she is, means that paying attention is practically a requirement. This is a good thing. It's folks like her who you want to listen to.
This probably isn’t going to really change anything – knowing my anxiety vs. care ratio – but it does fall into the category of Best Advice I’ve Ever Been Given. And, though I suppose it wasn’t exactly advice, either, I am still putting it squarely in the BAIEBG column because it fits there.
Here’s another example of great advice given to me.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (sorry – don’t smack me) I worked in a jewelry store in Old Town, Alexandria, VA. The store owner was brash and difficult and we butted heads…often. I loved my job. I loved the jewelry. I wanted to love my boss, too, but she made it very difficult.
One day, a co-worker pulled me aside and advised, “You’ve got to listen to what she is saying, not how she is saying it. Do that, and you and [boss lady] will get along just fine.” (I’m not paraphrasing here – I actually remember this one word-for-word. Hm…how odd that the above advice was given only yesterday -or maybe it was last week- and I can’t remember the exact words, but this thing that took place nearly 20 years ago, I remember verbatim.)
I don’t remember exactly what happened after except to say that my life got infinitely better after that sound wisdom was imparted to me. Even now, as a much older adult, I occasionally have to remind myself of those words. Listen to what they are saying, not how they are saying it.
It's good advice, don't you think? I think it can be effective in both your personal life, and your professional one.