Somehow I’ve ended up with a circle of folks I know or am friends with that are all quite successful in their respective fields. As I speak with each of them I ask what drives them and interestingly it’s having an opinion that matters. At the very least they want to be “in” on the action and be consulted.
I’ve never felt that way. And as I get older I feel even less that way. I have no desire to be “the man” and certainly no desire to be asked my opinion in a public forum. That’s not to suggest I don’t have opinions. Just ask my wife – I have very strong opinions (like all people). I just feel no need to have to have a bully pulpit to tell the world about them. (Perhaps this blog is a mini bully pulpit and I’m being hypocritical?)
I’m curious though if there is a corollary with people who seek attention and validation and success? Perhaps there is because you see the two of them linked together quite often. Maybe society does reward narcissism and attention seekers on some level. Certainly if no one has ever heard of you, you have a much harder time being famous 😉
Still, I like the shadows. I like the corners of the cocktail parties. You can take it all in there. You can have privacy and time to shape your own opinions. Listening for me has become much more enjoyable than talking. I’ve certainly learned a lot more and most definitely have stuck my foot in my mouth far less (though I do seem to do it far too often still).
Somewhat related with this is I used to be petrified of not knowing something. Like I’m dumb for not knowing about a topic or having a certain opinion about it. Truth is, learning to simply say, “I don’t know or I don’t have a fully formed opinion on that” has been the greatest and most liberating thing I’ve learned. It’s kind of like a get out of conversation jail free card. I don’t use it to punt or remain ignorant. That’s not what I’m saying. Rather I use it honestly – I don’t know, let me think about it and I’ll get back to you.
Anyway, all of this is just my opinion 😉