Do You Have a Desperate Need to Prove Something?

Robert Terson

In January 2012 a situation came up that required a great deal of tact on my part.  A sales-training colleague whom I had established a relationship with—he shall remain nameless—decided to use the lion as his brand symbol; as you might imagine, this did not sit well with yours truly; I felt he had trespassed across a boundary.  So I contacted him, quietly told him how I felt about it, and, without going into the specific details of that conversation, I’m glad to say he was quite willing to reverse his decision, change his brand symbol for the sake of our relationship.  I was pleased with the outcome.

He told me how glad he was that I had called him and given him the opportunity to look at the situation from my perspective; that I hadn’t gotten angry and gone off on a tirade, written him off and ended the relationship in a fury.  He then told me about two instances where people had done just that, and his level of frustration towards those two individuals (full disclosure: I know and respect them both, one is a friend of mine whom I’d go to the moon and back for; I consider her the most ethical, smartest, talented individual I’ve met in our business) bordered on the obsessive.  He couldn’t stop talking about them, in that conversation and in subsequent ones.  He kept telling me how it drove him crazy that he hadn’t been able to make peace with them, reestablish ties and let bygones be bygones.  He even wrote a blog post comparing our “positive” conversation with the “negative” ones he had had with them, which, I believe, was designed to prove his “antagonists” had behaved unreasonably; that their opinion that he hadn’t taken responsibility for the actions they considered so reprehensible, their unwillingness to forgive and move on, was ridiculous overkill.  “They’re the only two people who’ve ever gotten so angry with me,” he said.  “I get along so well with everyone else, everyone else likes me—it drives me up a wall!  I mean, it’s over with, get over it already for God’s sake!”

Do you see the irony in his last sentence?  I told him, more times than I can count, that he needed to get over it, forget about it, put it behind him and move on.  “You’re right,” he kept saying, but he just couldn’t do it, was powerless to do it.

I’ve told you this story because I want to ask if there’s a similar experience haunting you?  Does it keep popping into your thoughts?  Do you lie there in bed at night dwelling on it, unable to fall asleep? Do you keep trying to prove to yourself—to say nothing of others—that you were right, that you were justified to do what you did, that it’s the other guy who behaved unreasonably, not you?

Here’s the hard truth, folks: you have complete control over only one individual on this Earth—you; you have absolute control over no one else.  If you have an obsessive need to have everyone like you, approve of you, approve 100% of all your behaviors and actions, you’re going to drive yourself so nuts that you’ll sabotage all the wondrous things you’re trying to accomplish.  You’ll continuously be surrendering your power to others.

Is that what you want to do?  I didn’t think so.

So stop trying to prove the impossible.  Let yourself off the hook and move on.


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