Scott’s Thoughts: Getting Along

Diverse hands clasped together for strengthThe quote which kicks off today’s newsletter is from a speech Mr. Gardner gave to McKinsey & Company in Phoenix, Arizona in 1990, called “Personal Renewal.” It’s an extraordinary speech, and I encourage you to read it when you have some time to relax and reflect.

It is tempting at times to think people’s behavior or attitudes toward you are deeply personal. Beyond your close friends, however, I believe the world tends toward Gardner’s perspective. Most people, especially in business, are thinking of their own interests, and your interaction with them is primarily evaluated by whether you are helping them get what they want, or if you are somehow standing in their way.

I don’t feel this is a cynical point of view, necessarily. Thinking this way can help bring you a measure of level-headedness. It can be a relief to set aside the anxiety of whether or not people like you and concentrate instead on whether you believe you can help them or be of use. It might also give you a level of detachment which helps you see a connection which might not benefit you, as much as you may be driven to be liked. It is a great relief to end preoccupations with sussing out someone’s unfair biases or judgements.

Finally, it’s important to recognize we can mutually benefit one another without a great friendship. While we like to work with people who like us and who we like in return, it is not a requirement. Let us never forget we can still get along well enough to get done what needs to get done.

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