Reading Time: 1 Minute 40 Seconds
Do you worry? It’s not a trick question. Sure, everybody worries. That’s not what I’m mean, though. What I’m asking you is do you worry too much? Are you the kind of person that says something to a coworker which you later regret and worry what he or she is thinking?
“Was I too sarcastic with Joe?”
“Did I talk too much on that conference call?”
“Did I effectively describe Project X or was I all over the place?”
In healthy doses, these questions demonstrate self-awareness, a strength of many successful and effective leaders. BUT, it’s a thin line between healthy self-awareness and obsessive worrying. Spend too much time thinking about what others are thinking and you’ll have crossed that line into an unhealthy, unproductive and ineffective state of being. Worse yet, you’ll lose the confidence of your team and once you do that it’s very tough to gain it back.
There are some people that have never struggled with this issue…good for them. Most of us, though, are humans. And humans make mistakes. So, here’s a trick for all you humans like me that find themselves worrying about what others are thinking…
The 18/40/60 Rule
I remind myself of The 18/40/60 Rule in those times that I find myself worrying too much about what others think. The 18/40/60 Rule, coined by Dr. Daniel G. Amen in his book Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, says:
… when you are eighteen you worry about what everybody is thinking of you. At forty you don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks. And, at sixty, you realize that nobody has been thinking about your at all. Most people spend their days worrying and thinking about themselves.
Dr. Amen dives a little deeper:
Think about your day. What have you thought about today–what others are doing or what you have to do or want to do? Odds are you’ve been thinking about yourself: what you have to do that day, who you’re going to be with, what your bills are, the headaches your boss or children are giving you, whether your spouse will have any affection for you, and so on. People think about themselves, not you!
Oh yea, that’s right. People don’t sit around and think about me. So why am I doing it? Well, that was fun…back to work on important stuff.
Focus on the Important Things in Your Life
All the energy spent worrying about what others think is a waste of time. Use your energy instead on doing what’s important to you and meeting your goals. Base your behavior on what you think, not on what you think others think.