If you have strong opinions and share them unapologetically, you should expect to be disliked by a large percentage of the population.
Being a leader typically means taking a stand on a position, even in the face of opposition. The best leaders are unquestionably empathetic individuals, ones who seek collaboration and work as a team. At the end of the day, however, they also make decisions and form their own opinions.
People often want to hang back, to wait for the temperature of the room to settle out. Whether it’s a fear of confrontation, a lack of confidence or any other reason, they fear being judged and found wanting. But this constant search for approval ultimately disrupts your social satisfaction as well. The more we choose to silence our own voices for others’, the more we build up resentment and dissatisfaction internally. We cede control over our own self-worth and give up power. Jordan Bates:
The funny thing is whether we invest energy into making others like us or not, there will always be people who don’t.
Most individuals relate to authenticity. Even if we don’t agree, knowing that your teammate or conversation partner will offer up a genuine opinion feels honest. By contrast, those who continually sit back and only offer up platitudes that will be accepted by the group feel smarmy or fake. At its worst, it comes off as dishonest and manipulative.
That isn’t to say that stepping out of the box will be met with universal acclaim.
Historically, many of the most loved people were also among the most hated while they were alive. Visionaries from Abraham Lincoln to John Lennon were assassinated for spreading messages of love and understanding. So, I’m suggesting that we’d all be much better off embracing those who will find reason to despise us. It’s so much easier to do this than to waste our lives allowing the faultfinders to dictate our actions. Moreover, being disliked by people is actually a sign that you’re doing something worthwhile.
No matter how respectful you are with people, you’ll be judged on your leans on topics. Think about it. Every president in the history of the US, even the best and most successful ones, had millions of people who despised them. Within their own political parties, they had whisperers and shit talkers analyzing and eye-rolling at every turn. This is because these leaders were forced to take public positions on major political topics.
At the heart of being a leader is thinking critically. We form opinions by questioning assumptions and challenging dogma, instead of blindly following “common wisdom.” Take the football coach, as an example, who elects to go for the first down every time he’s within 2 yards on 4th down rather than punt. Football traditionalists across the country will have an irrevocable disdain for him. They might even call him stupid or say he’s trying to reinvent the wheel, no matter his level of research or validity of points. Whether he wins or not is irrelevant to those purists if he’s not playing the game “the right way.”
Humans are often immediately threatened by foreign (to them) philosophy. Should that coach be shy or filter the expression of his or her opinions? Should he be looking to gain the favor of the room by having a popular paradigm?
Many play this game, but there’s a risk to making calculated decisions to seek approval, rather than optimizing for success.
But here’s the problem with this way of thinking: When we act in such a way that eliminates negative criticism, we also eliminate many, many possible lifestyles, actions, and directions from our realm of possibility. We become slaves to that which we believe others will approve.
Caring too much about what others think of you stifles your ability to take risks. That football coach has to decide between being popular and winning more games. If you want to be average, continue doing what everyone else does. Being better than the pack requires doing something different.