Principle 9: Have an Opinion.

Opinions matter.

The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want. ~Ben Stein

Clarify and Evaluate.

In order to have an opinion, Pastor Andy Stanley from NorthPoint Church in Atlanta, said it simply- “Clarify and evaluate.” Clarify, meaning take time to approach the brutal task of declaring what a win is. Decide before you pursue, what will be success in a given activity. Know your goal and opinion: Be it growth, or discipline, or gain. Know what a win is, so that you may celebrate on the day you win.

Evaluation comes in as you go along the way. Ask for honest and open feedback from your peers, superiors and subordinates. Opinions matter in these situations. Honesty must be constantly valued and rewarded.

Banish Insecurity.

We all have insecurity issues. Everyone of us. One person has a skewed view that their weight is, or maybe, is not a problem. Another thinks they are sweet and gentle, when they may be the world’s #1 A*$ hole boss.

Constantly working to find a line between insecurity, confidence and humility is a noble goal. Not to please people, or in the hopes that the world will like you, but so that fear and insecurity will not rule your decisions.

More so that you may press on toward success, with a good frame of mind and a strong will in the face of difficulty. I would prefer eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand the people and problems around me.

Don’t take opinions personally.

Artists and designers often struggle with taking opinions too seriously to an extreme degree. When you sing your song, post your painting or dance your jig, you put yourself out there. Critics/Friends somehow find a place in these situations to come up and criticize. “Man, that was bad.” or “Should have done this.” Be aware of doing this to your artistic friends, it can hurt. Artists value a well-timed remark, but can easily be wounded by a broad sword.

CEO’s have this problem too, TechCrunch has a great article titled What’s the Most Difficult CEO Skill? Ben Horowitz, investor in Skype(which was just purchased by msoft for $8B) discusses the pains and difficulties of making decisions that drive a company. Ben discusses the stresses that can put a CEO under his desk crying crocodile tears.

Given this stress, CEOs often make the one of the following two mistakes:

1. They take things too personally

2. They do not take things personally enough

There is a fine line. You can run people into the ground with an opinion or you can make them better. Be a respecter of opinions. Encourage others around you to have opinions. Ask your mentors and friends what they think.

Seek their advice and support an opinion when you see value. When you don’t see value, sometimes – just listen. You don’t have to always rebut. Ask questions, gain understanding. Do choose who you listen to. Every Joe Shmo out there has an opinion, few are valuable. Find valuable opinions they’re worth more than their weight in gold.

Overall, you should be a respecter of opinions because opinions matter.

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