New job, new you?

Have you ever started a new job, one you really wanted or really needed, and you just felt super nervous? You wanted to make a good impression. You wanted to establish yourself as a hard worker. You wanted to showcase your badassery. Basically, you wanted to make sure people at this new job thought highly of you.

Culture agrees that this is a good idea, but there's one big problem: you actually can't control what other people think. Seriously. I want you to really stop and think about that for a moment. We do so much throughout our lives (and often things we actually don't want to do) because we think it will make other people think or feel a certain way about us.

But this doesn't work. Why not? Because the human brain is not an objective observer. The brain has built-in biases like negativity bias and confirmation bias. So you can work hard and try to make a good impression, but other people will all still have their own thoughts about you. Thoughts mostly based on their past experiences or rather their brain's interpretations of their past experiences. So, one new coworker may think you have amazing work ethic, because you do something that their brain interprets that way, but another coworker may think that you're a show-off because the way you talk reminds them of the show-off from 7th grade who won the science fair. You do not create their thoughts with your actions. Their brains have existing thought patterns, and they apply those patterns to you.

At first, this may seem like bad news. If you can't prove yourself to others, how will you succeed? But it's actually amazing news. Because when you stop trying to control other people's thoughts, you get a lot of time and energy back that you can spend creating value in your actual job. Yes, you read that correctly. Trying to control what other people think of you is a waste of time, because they will think what they want to think, no matter what you do.

But when you stop worrying about their thoughts, you get so much time and energy back that you actually become much better at your job. Which is what you wanted to do anyways.

A lot of my clients think that if they stop worrying about what other people think, they'll stop working hard. This is a very common misconception. As a culture, we have this idea that the only way to get ourselves to do something is by discipline and judgment and shame. But all that backfires. Like I said in my last post, even if we create results that way, they always come with hidden costs. When we release all the drama and worrying, then we can actually apply ourselves to our work -- and enjoy it. And when we stop trying to control what other people think and just focus on doing our best instead, we create amazing results. Why? Because we've detached ourselves from what we can't control - other people's thoughts -- and switched our focus to what we can control -- our own thoughts, feelings, and actions.