This is not a direct message!
Don't take public activity personal
Every now and then I am baffled to learn that someone somewhere felt hurt by some thought or link I shared.
My right to freedom of expression isn't an entitlement to offend others. But the right to get offended is not an entitlement to bend reality.
There's only so much lipstick you can put on a pig before the pig gets lost. Pig doesn't even like lipstick! 💄
While I can't control how others feel, I can try to clarify the obvious.
There are two main reasons I share my thoughts or links publicly:
To inspire others
To grow through the feedback
The second reason is equally important for me personally. But every message demands an appropriate channel to maximize the return. My motto is this:
Criticize privately 👥️, praise publicly 📢
Our understanding of reality is limited by our senses and perception. I do my best to seek and speak the truth as I understand it. If I have a blind spot, please reach out to shine a light to your perspective. Let’s have a dialogue. Together we can evolve, separated we devolve.
For me personally, truth has a higher priority than social contracts.
We humans are not really truth-seeking animals. We are social animals.
... take you back in time 10,000 years and you’re in a small village. If you go along to get along, you can survive. You can procreate. If you’re the village truth-teller, you might get clubbed to death in the middle of the night. Truths are often… They don’t want to be heard because important truths can be uncomfortable, they can be awkward, they can be exhausting.
They can make people defensive even if that’s not the intent. But any high performing organization, whether it’s a sports team, a business, a political organization, an activist group, I don’t care what it is, any high performing organization has to have mechanisms and a culture that supports truth-telling. One of the things you have to do is you have to talk about that. You have to talk about the fact that it takes energy to do that. —Jeff Bezos on Lex Fridman podcast
However, as I often say:
Don’t confuse common narrative with the truth.
Truth is like a mirror. There are two types of people who look at a mirror:
Those who get angry at the mirror or try to change it to see what they want
Those who use it to improve what they see and be what they want
If you read something public that feels like a criticism to you, stop and reflect:
Not everything is about you. Where was the message posted? If the audience was larger than 1, there’s a good chance it wasn’t intended as a personal attack! Why would someone use a public platform to send a message that should have been private? To raise confident kids, many parents refrain from exposing their children to a colorful picture of reality. Guess what? Those snowflakes grow to believe that they are the center of the world and interpret everything as a celestial signal targeting them. Let those kids grow.
There are better ways than going through the chain of commands! As I’ve written previously picking the right manager is my most important career decision. If you play the hierarchy card, I’ll hear about it, but the feedback will be so anonymized and unspecific that I’ll not be able to take it seriously. Instead of abusing side channels to enforce the cancel culture, why not take your thoughts directly to me and deliver that feedback constructively? That way we can have a dialogue about intentions and feelings.
Forgive the mistakes. There's always a risk of hurting some feelings when saying something or doing something. The more significant the consequences, the higher that risk. The only people who don’t make mistakes are the ones who don’t do anything! I do therefore, I make mistakes. You can forgive or hold a grudge. The choice is yours, and if you don’t let me know through appropriate channels, there’s a high risk that you’ll feel sad again.
Life is evolution and vice versa. Personally, it is worth it when it can drive evolution. But naturally change triggers resistance. Evolution doesn’t happen in vacuum. You are part of the environment that hammers ideas to move forward. Share your counterarguments and let's evolve together. You cannot make an omelet without breaking some eggs.
Internalize the fact that one cannot please everybody. People are different and that diversity is the strength of society. Even one person's feelings fluctuate depending on what they're going through. Everyone is fighting a war you know nothing about. Be nice but lying nice. Just civil and polite! It is OK to have a disagreement. What is not OK is to skip a logical argument and go directly to back stab. “You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
Use that as inspiration to improve. Unbelievably, I too feel insecure reading random thoughts from time to time! Sometimes, I just think about a counter argument in my head and move on. Sometimes I share my thoughts and try to learn more. Some other times, I see the opposite point and get inspired to improve. It depends. Pick your fights!
Feel free to ignore. Don't let your insecurity take the best of you. 💔 Scroll on, unfollow, and ignore if you don't find value in exploring diverse views and opposite ideas. I am not going to sacrifice my integrity just because someone chooses to misinterpret my message. I exercise my freedom of speech to the extent it doesn’t conflict with the law. However, I’m not the only person in the world. There are many voices, and it may take a toll on the brain to focus on every single one.
Try to get me fired. Obviously, this is not the first time someone goes behind my back, so I’ve built a safety net to minimize the negative impact of getting fired. Cancelling and removing people is an option that has been exercised throughout history and I’m not dumb enough to think it’ll not happen to me. So, if you think l have malicious intentions, please go ahead, and do your best fighting it. If the people in power buy into that without giving me a chance to defend myself, I’m 100% fine with that and in fact want it. You’re doing me a service; thanks in advance 🙌
Get help. Reading everything negatively might be a symptom of a deeper issue like depression. I know it sounds like I don’t take accountability for my action, but if I’m not the only one you take things personal from, please visit a certified psychologist to get professional help (yes, hearing it from your “enemy” is the last thing you want to hear, but you don’t have to tell the Dr where you got the idea from). Peace ✌
Words ≠ Actions! Words can hurt. Words can lift. But it's important to remember that they're fundamentally made of a different material than actions. Decoupling the words from actions shields you from manipulation. No compliment or insult will impact you. 📝 The words can only complete your mental image of who emitted those words. 💡 A mental trick that helps is to add "in my opinion..." at the start of everything people say. Unless it's math, what's said is usually an instant emotion mixed with random quotes disguised as fact!
There are many types of censorship: state censorship, corporate censorship, religious censorship, etc. The worst type of censorship is self-censorship.
If someone thinks others should bend reality avoiding a sensible argument, they will be disappointed. If calling bullshit is not nice, creating bullshit is the ultimate crime.
Life is too short to feel hurt about someone else's opinion. They're too busy living their own lives anyway. Live yours. 🎁
The cost of freedom
Freedom has a price. I hope this post will get me a discount but if not, here are some tips to maximize it for me:
Build a case. Having a link to this post is handy but gather more evidence from social media or internal communication channels.
Build an army. Find allies. Speaking behind my back can help identify other people with the same grudge.
Use formal leverage. HR is your friend. Do your homework and take the evidence out of its original context and put it in the context of a new story. We humans have a thing for stories.
Be a victim: go to the “authorities” with a victim mentality. Make it personal and about you. Before meeting HR or any person of influence, do a self-affirmation: “I am the victim and with your help I’ll make the world a better place.”
Have an end in mind. Is the goal to get me fired or change team or something else. Think about it beforehand because if everything is working your way, you are going to find yourself in a position to deliver the final sting. Be deliberate.
Good luck! 🙌
Every organization needs truth tellers. They act as canary in the coal mine.
Good decisions need good data and insight. They need truth. Truth is not always pretty. There are ways to make it pretty, but someone you need to stare into its ugly face and do something accordingly.
I like to think truth-telling is part of my brand. This attitude, as risky as it may sound, has generated more opportunities than it has taken away.
If you manage to send me the bill, I’ll happily pay it because I rather not work with leaders who want to run blind.
My experience shows that there’s always a place which values truth and frankness so don’t worry about me.