I feel very fortunate that I learned this lesson at an early age. When I was about 18 years old, I realized that other people’s opinions didn’t matter and I quit asking people what they thought about my ideas (which have always been a bit outlandish). That doesn’t mean that others are not knowledgeable and may have great insight to share, but the key is to differentiate between opinions and information.
If you have a dream in your heart and in your mind, it no longer matters what ANYONE else thinks of it. Have you ever been really excited about a dream, goal or idea you have only to have that energy sucked right out of you by someone telling you that they thinks it’s a dumb idea or that you’d never be able to achieve it? It is human nature to knock someone’s ideas or dreams. Sometimes it’s because they fear you will fail and want to save you from that pain, but most of the time it comes from a place of jealousy… because they were too scared to go after their own dreams or maybe because they fear that you will succeed and leave them behind. Either way, it’s not worth having their negativity weighing you down… life has enough obstacles to deal with.
So... rather than asking someone their opinion, ask them informational questions only. For example,
when I was 22 years old, I wanted to buy a motor home and drive it from Oregon down through Mexico to my windsurfing destinations… just me, my dog and the open road. If I had asked people what they thought, the majority would have said that I was a crazy and not to do it. Well, I already knew I was crazy (enough), so what I really needed to do was gather INFORMATION that would help me determine whether I could pull it off or not. I started asking people (all kinds of people) questions like, “Where is a good place to buy a used motor home?” “What paperwork are needed to take a dog across the border?” “Where can I get insurance that would cover me in Mexico?” What are the best driving routes?” etc…
Once I gathered the answers to all these questions, I was able to determine that I would indeed be able to safely and successful drive and live in my motor home around Mexico… it turned out to be one of the best times of my life!!!
It takes some time and practice to only ask informational questions, but eventually you will get so good at knowing the difference you will either stop the person from sharing their “opinion” and be able to turn it into an informational conversation, or you will simply learn to ignore that part of the
Here's how you can get yourself into the routine of being an information gathering machine and an opinion deflector:
1. Identify a goal or dream that you have for yourself. Maybe it will be going back to school, moving, taking a trip or changing careers.
2. Make a list of all the questions and concerns you have around this idea.
3. Go through your list and write down how to ask these questions in an informational format. You can even go so far as to think about how someone might try to answer a question with their opinion and how you can change the conversation so they are only giving you info.
4. Like anything, practice makes perfect, so practice a little everyday (where to go for lunch, should you email someone back, what to wear, what new phone to buy, etc...). Pretty soon it will be second nature to converse this way and trust me, it will save you years of heartache and anguish.
If you have any INFORMATIONAL questions I can answer for you... please let me know :) firstname.lastname@example.org