Whose Opinion Counts?

“If all men count with you, but none too much; …”

This line is from one of the best pieces of poetry I have ever read. My father taught me this poem when I was a young man and I have tried to make it my roadmap since then.

I haven’t always succeeded and sometimes I got lost. But the line I quoted above has special meaning to me.

One of the obstacles people encounter in life is being held back by what other people think.

We are told from the time we are very young to mind our behavior because we do not want to incur the adverse opinions of other people. And while there is and should be a standard of acceptable behavior in a civilization, that concern about what others might think somehow gets out of proportion.

Suddenly we find ourselves not as concerned about whether our behavior it is socially acceptable to worrying about what people think about how we look, what we wear, what car we drive, or where we live.

Our motivation changes. We start doing things because we think it will look good in the eyes of others. We act based on the concern of what others think.

And so, I go back to the quote, “If all me count with you, but none too much.”

In order to have the confidence you need to succeed, you have to cast aside your concern about what others think. Be mindful and respectful of others (If all men count with you) but do not let what others might think be your prime motivation (but none too much).

Worrying about what others might think is an excuse for inaction. What if I fail? Will I look like a fool?

Give it a try. I have looked like a fool many times in my life. You know what? It isn’t near as bad as you might think. And I learned a lot from it. It is like falling down when you learn to skate. You realize it doesn’t hurt nearly as bad as you thought it would. And you learned to skate!

The poem is “If” by Rudyard Kipling. Read it, love it, live by it.