60-Second Wisdom: What Will They Think Of Me?

Do you worry what people will think of you? Do you care how you will be perceived if you: Share your Big Vision? Want to switch your career or go back to school? Desire to go against what society says you “should” do? Accept a public speaking opportunity in front of your colleagues at work or your local community group?

This post is for you.


As a professor and a high-end executive coach I frequently run into individuals who do not attempt things they feel inclined to because they feel embarrassed.

They are overly concerned about “What will they think of me?”

Susan was a good manager and well liked by both her bosses and the persons who reported to her.

Her team elected to stage a skit at the annual Company Day festivities.

It was uproariously funny and they wanted her to be part of it. Her character would suffer a fall and then recover to brilliantly crush the department bully with a verbal riposte.

Her boss and his boss would be there and they had never seen her except prim and properly dressed.

She was concerned about her image and declined.

Has something like this ever happened to you?

Have you turned down an unusual assignment or a lateral move that you would have liked to take but for the fear of “What will they think of me?”

Have you declined a public speaking opportunity or an invitation to join an improvisation group or hesitated to speak up at a meeting where you were the expert in the room for the same reason?

We all want others to think well of us.

And we all want to know what “they” think of us.

Well, I have good news for you.

I know exactly what they think of you.

And I will tell you right now.

The truth is – they don’t think of you at all. And they won’t suddenly start doing this either.

You go through life watching the movie of ‘your life’ and you think everyone is watching it as well.

But they are not.

They are busy watching the movie of ‘their life.’

And in that movie you have only a bit part if, indeed, you have any role at all.

Don’t take my word for it. Here is how you can check it out. Hundreds of my students have come to me ruefully to tell me that I was right.

Go back a few years and recollect some situation – business or personal – where you made a horrible gaffe. You did something so gauche that your face burned and you wished you could sink into the floor and pull it in after you.

Possibly your ears are still burning as you recall the incidence.

Now, visit or call up the persons who were present, gently broach the subject and ask for their recollection.

I will wager that most will not recall the event and those who do will think it of no significance.

And you have spent years being bothered by your emotions and your faulty recollections.

Your fear of being negatively appraised by others is keeping you from trying out stuff that your heart calls you to.

It is affecting your career choices. It is making you decide to stay in a job you hate rather than break off to start your own company. It is preventing you from trying to get to know that person you find really attractive.

Recognize that ‘What will they think of me?’ is a prison.

It is a prison that you have constructed and it does not really exist.

Because they are not thinking of you at all.


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Many who have taken CPM say it has changed so many of their mental models that it has made them a new person.

And, of course, this new person naturally thinks differently.

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​​​​​​​And which helps you reach heights you never dreamed possible even as the sense of effort and strain leave you.

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