Last evening was the Florida primary election and as I was watching the election results pour in, I realized just how much a politician’s future depends on what the electorate thinks of him or her. It is said that you must have a “tough skin” to survive in politics and it certainly was true as I saw how Rick Scott, the millionaire at the center of a healthcare scandal, bought his way into the Florida Republican choice. Scott spent an unprecedented $30+ million dollars of his own (healthcare business) money to throw dirty advertising at his opponent – and the money paid off as he defeated the incumbent “career politician” he faced off with.
It didn’t matter during the primary ad campaign whether the accusations and mud-slinging between the opponents was based on fact or fiction – the only thing that mattered in the end was the opinion of the Florida electorate and what we voters believed about the candidates. Our opinion of the candidates and their truthfulness about themselves and their opposition was the only thing that mattered in this and many elections. But is this true only of politics – or does this same premise hold true for the majority of us in many aspects of our own lives?
Self-help books proclaim that the only opinion that should matter to us is our own – yet unless we live on an island apart from society, this is more idealistic than realistic. Even the most hardened and tough skinned among us can be influenced by the opinions (especially negative) of others about us. As you read this you might say that you are immune to the opinions of others, yet I challenge you to consider:
- The opinions of our bosses, clients, customers and peers translates into money and contracts. Can you truly say that you don’t care about these opinions when your livelihood and income depends on such opinions?
- The opinions of our family members (sons, daughters, parents, siblings) comes out when we share our ideas with them. If you’ve ever gone in to work and second guessed your decision about child rearing based on someone else’s opinion – you know how these can affect your judgment and your own intuition.
- The opinions of a spouse, partner or significant other can be dished out often without due consideration of their effect. When we’ve been with someone for a significant time and consider them important to our life, sometimes both we and they can take each other for granted and as such, opinions can be thrown out without considering their full effect. Do you give added weight (or less) to your significant other’s opinion (especially if it is negative towards you or your views)?
- The opinions of friends can affect your choices – especially when such friends are judgmental or intolerant. If you’ve ever reconsidered a restaurant choice or what you wear to an event based on a friend’s less than complimentary comment about your choice, you know exactly what I mean.
It should be true that it is only our opinion – especially of ourself – that matters, but unfortunately we sometimes let the opinions of others overrule and override our own. Remember that you are the only one, when push comes to shove, who will stand up for you, so it becomes survival and essential to nurture and honor your opinion above all others.
Aside from politicians, I hope you learn to trust and realize that the answer to “Whose opinion matters anyways?” is more and more often just YOURS!
Have a great week!