Don’t take anything personally.” This is the second of the Four Agreements—from the book The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz—that I try hard to live by. Ruiz writes that we should not take what happens around us personally because the actions of others have nothing to do with you, but rather are about them.
Although I do believe this, I also believe it does not mean we shouldn’t listen to and learn from others. I recall a time when a CEO said to me that one of the senior executives had taken the low employee satisfaction results in their area personally and that she advised him not to do so. My response was they should take the results personally for those areas they lead. This appears confusing when considered alongside Ruiz’s words.
In thinking about this paradox, I have some thoughts and suggestions:
How can we interpret results or feedback in such a way that we don’t take it personally but that we learn and grow from it? Our first thought must be that the sender of the message is not trying to be hurtful but helpful. As discussed in Chapter 1, the two most vital characteristics in personal growth are self-awareness and coachability. Feedback that creates self-awareness is meant to be helpful. Having an outside perspective is valuable; remember, an artist can draw someone else better than they can draw themselves.
When we take something personally ...