How do I see myself? How do I see the world and my place in it? What is important to me? What makes me happy? These are the questions leaders are grappling in the wake of a pandemic and amidst an epidemic of burnout. The book, “The Courage to Be Disliked,” written by Fumitake Koga and Ichiro Kishimi, which is based on the tenets of Adlerian psychology, can help leaders find the answers.
In our urgent effort to avoid feeling judged, we engage in behaviors that divert us away from what we really want. For example, for many people, the idea of how others see them can be crippling. They get caught up in trying to orchestrate a persona they think will satisfy others. But, Adlerian psychology says how other people see you is their problem, not yours. It’s up to you to live according to your purpose, which accounts for the legacy you want to leave. It’s futile to stage-manage how other people perceive you.
People can change through being aware of the lifestyle (personality, outlook on life) they are choosing and to make sure what they are choosing will create happiness. It’s easier to stay unhappy than to face the fear that if you make the wrong decision that even greater unhappiness could be down the road. “Adlerian psychology is a psychology of courage. Your unhappiness cannot be blamed on your past or your past environment. And, it isn’t that you lack competence. You just lack courage. One might say you lack the courage to be happy.” (Stay tuned for a book review on the follow-up book: “The Courage to be Happy.”)
The desire for recognition is dangerous. You can end up distracted from your own purpose and living other people’s lives out of fear of judgment and an insatiable need for adulation. Instead, practice the separation of tasks, which is respecting the roles of others and avoiding intervening in someone’s else work when it’s not your place. Seeking praise is a way of trying to control how other people see you. Instead, focus on competing with yourself, stay focused on recognizing your own advancements.
If competition is at the core of your interpersonal relationships, you will be plagued with problems. Feelings of inferiority arise from comparing yourself to others and making a subjective interpretation of the difference. A healthy feeling of inferiority comes from not comparing yourself to others but one’s comparison to your ideal self. When you see people as your comrades, your view of the world will utterly change. The world will change from “a dangerous and perilous place to safe and pleasant.”
Focus on not what you were born with but what you can accomplish with your equipment. Don’t lament the cards you were dealt, but focus that time and energy on playing your best game with the cards you have. Accepting yourself will free precious physical and mental resources that you can use to work toward your highest purpose.
All these principles are essentially driving toward one goal: leave the legacy of leadership you want by not getting distracted by other people’s perceptions, your past or a false notion of yourself that is distorted by the curse of comparison. It’s a means to removing illusory obstacles and to avoid getting in your own way by focusing on your highest goals.
Stay tuned for more posts on how to take advantage of this fresh perspective to enhance your professional and personal life.