Opinion or judgement?
do you strive to see the world as clearly as you possibly can?
I am of the firm belief that the judgemental are the deprived - deprived of opportunity, self-improvement, and ultimately, the life they truly desire. Those who adopt a constantly judgemental outlook will inevitably suffer from an enclosed and insulated life, without any real chance of realizing the life they aspire to. It is this very attitude that cannot ever afford them the ability to evolve, robbing them of their dreams.
I was enjoying a quiet family lunch on a recent Sunday afternoon, when suddenly my cousin declared his desire to get another tattoo. A couple at the table could barely hide their collective distaste. “But they’re so ugly,” said one. “They stay with you forever,” said the other. The line of questioning continued relentlessly for much of the afternoon with a tone of judgement, as if my cousin was ‘wrong’ in his choices.
A tattoo may seem harmless enough, but the judgements we so often receive from those around us cut deeply and can be incredibly disheartening – not because we seek validation for our choices, but because their surface-value judgements can unveil a series of crippling character traits seething beneath the surface.
Most people consider themselves open-minded, however society has also conditioned us to be judgemental in order to survive– we make judgements when we vote, employ someone, or establish new relationships.
The ugly side of judgement quietly creeps in when we impose our attitudes, which are formed on the basis of our own unique life experiences, onto the experience of others. We are all familiar with the body language that typically accompanies judgement - the rolling of the eyes, the scoffing, the pursed, pouted lips or the flick of the hand. These gestures are all excuses for not taking a precious opportunity to self-reflect and evolve. I believe it is the weak person who succumbs easily to judgement, and by contrast, it is the strong person that makes a concerted effort to meet and understand people of all walks of life – knowing that in doing so, they are furthering themselves, broadening their horizons, and staying relevant.
Judgemental people are so concerned with maintaining their own insular existence, that they vehemently fight to preserve the version of the world they have created, choosing to see everything outside that world as a threat. The subconscious mind responds to these threats by retreating into a sheltered hiding place. And once they start hiding, it is impossible to break free from the prison they have themselves fabricated.
I have witnessed all too many times in business that this fear inspires even the most innovative and creative people to remain small, hidden, and naive. They inevitably reach a ceiling, beyond which they will never evolve or progress, because they are inhibited by their own judgements. Their inability to create the life of their dreams stops abruptly short at their own inauthenticity.
The judgemental are afraid to embrace the unfamiliar, or the serendipitous, because anything between them and their perception of the ideal world is an obstacle. They are so distracted by fear and the discomfort of being proven wrong, that they forget to ask, “How can I find value in the opinions of others, no matter how challenging they may be to my own views?” That is precisely what it means to be open-minded.
We don’t always have to agree with, or like, the choices of those around us, but we must be open-minded enough to learn from those choices, even if they are contrary to those we would elect to make ourselves. We must learn not to apply our own prejudices or experiences to the circumstances of others as it will restrict us and our ability of having any real chance of finding success. One person’s truth is not the truth.
In recent years, I have learnt that in order to truly evolve, both in my professional and personal life, that I neither succumb to judgement, nor permit myself to cast judgement on others. Never has the distinction between opinion and judgement been more pronounced in my professional life than when I released BPM’s first campaign film to a magnitude of judgemental feedback, placing me in a position where I’ve had to strongly defend my own vision. Some people were confused as to why a property brand was suddenly involved in making such a bold contribution to culture and film; now, it’s exactly this kind of thinking that drives our industry.
Every day I work on becoming less judgemental, by reframing my unique position as a business leader. When something contradicts my expectations, I am excited to test my own beliefs - intrigued by a point of view that might be different from my own, as this is my opportunity to grow. If indeed I am proven wrong, it doesn’t mean that I am ignorant or uneducated. Rather, it is a valuable opportunity to evolve beyond my current version of reality. It is this awareness and skill, I believe, that has enabled BPM’s continued growth and development in a forward trajectory.
When we receive feedback, our instinct is to assess its worthiness. If we consider it flawed feedback because we think someone has a vendetta against us, or is in a junior position, or doesn’t understand our idea—we often cast it aside, absolving us of the responsibility of having to better ourselves. I believe, however, that we have the most constructive opportunity to learn from our critics. They reveal the greatest opportunities for self-improvement, which would otherwise remain buried under our own vanity.
Let me pose a question: Do you strive to defend your own beliefs and maintain your world as you know it, or do you have aspirations for more, and strive to see the world as clearly as you possibly can? Only when we decide to let go of judgement and be courageous enough to evolve, do we have the ability to truly master our dreams.