It’s Thursday evening, and a group of us are hanging out at a friend’s house. We don’t do it often enough, but when we get together we really enjoy it. We’ve been friends since high school. We have very different backgrounds and careers, but we share a strong love for one another.
One of the guys was talking about his plans to grow his business. And two of my friends were giving him advice, ranging from finance to differentiation. I noticed that some of the advice wasn’t exactly the advice I would give. I sat there listening and at some point I blurted out to my friend who was receiving the advice “I think you should only take advice from someone who actually started his own business.”
I guess part of me thought the advice he was being given was not sound. I didn’t really mean much by it, and to be honest I didn’t think much before saying it. But I guess I really hit a nerve with one of my friends.
He got up and said “You really take this whole ‘I started my own business thing’ very seriously! Boy you’ve got a chip on your shoulders Suhail, don’t you!” He was very annoyed, and being a bit aggressive.
“Yes I do.” I replied smiling.
“We get it, you know! You’ve done really well for yourself!” He added with a generous hint of annoyance and sarcasm.
“I know I have,” I said.
I guess I inadvertently hit a nerve. Let me quickly add before I go on that this is an old and very dear friend. And I guess being brutally honest from time to time is not a bad thing.
Anyway, another friend interjected, saying something like “come on man, Suhail really did very well for himself! No one knew him before and now he’s one of the most famous people in Bahrain.”
“I wouldn’t goo that far!” I said. “But thanks for the support,” I added.
“No Suhail, you deserve it,” he replied.
“Yeah mashallah Suhail, you went from zero to hero!” said a third friend.
“Thanks buddy” I think, was my reply…
My Point In Sharing This With You
There are a couple of reasons I bring this up, as I think there is some wisdom I can impart here….
Don’t defend yourself
I heard Deepak Chopra say this. It’s one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard. When you don’t defend yourself you become defenceless, and when you become defenceless, there’s nothing for others to attack. I’ve been trying to follow this advice since I first heard it, and I’ve been (mostly) successful at it. When my friend had the mini-outburst I did not feel the need to defend myself against his sarcastic remarks. And maybe part of me agreed with him.
Don’t take what others say about you too seriously
Look, there’ll always be people who criticise you unjustifiably, and people who praise you unjustifiably. Don’t take either too seriously. When someone praises you don’t let it go to your head, and when someone criticises you, don’t get offended either. Don’t believe the hype, as they say.
Don’t take yourself too seriously
Who are you not to be insulted from time to time, Genghis Khan? Life’s too short to take too seriously. Learn to laugh at yourself, and learn to role with the punches when someone attacks.
Don’t apologise for your success
I didn’t feel a need to defend or justify myself, nor did I feel a need to apologise somehow. Look, if you’re good at what you do, and that annoys people from time to time, well that’s their problem. They need to deal with it, not you.
The need to feel important, and other thoughts
I think we all have a need to feel important. We need to feed our self-image. Personally, my self-image (rightly or wrongly) is very much tied to being an entrepreneur. I can’t imagine being anything else, and I derive a great deal of satisfaction from being one. But that’s not the only thing that gives me the feeling of self-importance. I’m very proud of being a Black Belt martial artist and instructor, being an intellectual of sorts, being a marketing expert, being a good father and husband, and a few more other things.
In my opinion, the more sources you have for your self-importance, the healthier your self-image will be. If you have only one source, and that source goes, you’ll be in a lot of trouble emotionally and spiritually.
We’ve seen this with people in important positions. They can’t imagine their life without this important title, and they hold on to it so desperately. I recently heard my father say “when a man loses power, he holds on to the shadow of power.” Know what I mean?
So for you my friend, find different sources for your self-importance needs – things you can identify yourself with. Start a hobby, or read more. The more you have the better.
Back to my friend who said those things to me
I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. Like I said, this is a very old and dear friend who loves me very much. He has been very supportive of me of the years. I know I could count on him for anything. People sometimes say things that they need to say, it should never affect your friendship in any way. Besides, the whole conversation lasted just a few minutes.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and talk to you soon.