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It's Nothing Personal

Barron Ryan

(don't) Cry  by Pedro Klien

(don't) Cry by Pedro Klien

In college I was selected to co-lead a prestigious leadership organization. One school staff member asked me what influence I hoped to have on the students in the group, and I still can't believe what I told her. I said, "I want to show them that they're not as cool as they think they are." I know, inspiring words.

As undiplomatic as that response was, I still think it's a valid lesson for a lot of us (including me) to continually learn. Sure, I've got some skills. Sure, I've done some cool stuff. However, that means nothing about my worth as a person compared to anyone else.

There's also a deeper issue at play, which is that we tend to take results personally. When we succeed, we attribute it to our awesomeness. When we fail, we beat ourselves up over mistakes. But there are so many more factors that affect our lives' outcomes (genetics, upbringing, other people, etc.) that there's no room to be either arrogant or despondent about ourselves. It doesn't mean we should stop striving for greatness, just that we shouldn't think more or less highly of ourselves as a result.

So it's important to remember that no event is a referendum on your value as a human being. If you fall on your face, learn from it and move on. If you pass with flying colors, celebrate, thank the people who helped you, learn from it, and start again. What's happened is done. Keep going. It's nothing personal.