How Not to Be a Jerk

There’s a career and life motto that I live by, which will make anyone a good colleague, boss, or associate. If you’re kind of a stiff person and find it hard to socialize with people, this won’t turn you into the life of the party, but at least you won’t be the guy in the office or department that people say, “That guy? What an ####%%%%!.

Here it is, precious words to live by: Take your work seriously, but not yourself.

If you do your job, whether it is shuffling papers, writing articles, defending clients in a courtroom, or teaching classes– whatever it may be– do your job to the very best of your ability, be dedicated, and then let the product speak for itself. Beyond that, you’re a human being with the same exact value as everyone else on planet earth. The sun shines down on me like it does on you or a kid digging in the trash to find some food. We are all children of God.

People will respect you for doing a good job and being efficient or talented. The way you maintain that respect is by not taking yourself seriously. Note, I didn’t say not taking yourself too seriously, I said not taking yourself seriously at all. This also drastically reduces stress and is a healthy way to live!

If you haven’t learned to separate work from self, but you start doing that, you’re in for a treat. Life is much better that way! If you love your work, separating yourself from your work will only make your work better. Why? Because when you literally put yourself into your work, you become affected by criticism or praise thrown your way. Someone says to you, “Your painting is gorgeous. You’re the best painter since Picasso!'” You think to yourself, “Wow “I feel so good! She said, ‘Since Picasso!” That might even make you hesitant about your progress because you don’t want to mess up now. You’ve been compared to Picasso, and now you’re feeling unnecessarily pressured. Along comes someone else, “That’s a horrible painting! I don’t like it all. I think the lines are all messed up. A first year art student could do better! You need to work harder! You call yourself a real artist?” Now what– your ego is all wrapped up in your work. You were floating on air with one compliment and came crashing down with criticism or insults. As an artist, one paints. That’s what the artist does. It’s like a bird singing. The bird is a bird, and the beautiful song is her product. Whether someone loves her chirping or is annoyed by it, the bird still chirps and sings as it likes. Does the bird stop chirping because someone yells at it to keep quiet? No. Does the bird change its song when someone sits under the tree and praises it? No. The bird does what it has to do. It does its thing. What you think about it, does not affect its work.

Yes, compliments are nice to hear– one should be gracious and thankful for the kind words– but don’t invest yourself in them. Sometimes criticism can make you better. If it’s constructive, see it for what it is, and use it if you can. But don’t invest yourself in it.

If you’re a writer– write. If you’re a runner– run. Whatever it may be, do your thing. When people start to care about what other people think about their work and how it is being perceived, they start taking themselves seriously instead of just focusing on their own creative process or doing the best possible job. That’s when they can become a JERK!

Do your thing and be happy!

La vie est belle, profitez de chaque moment


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