I found you a thousand times
Guess you’ve done the same
But then we lose each other
It’s just like a children’s game
— Harry Chapin, “Circle”
I’ve had a terrible week. It wouldn’t look that way from the outside, but I’ve felt tortured inside.
It started Monday with a disagreement over the way I’ve managed a part of my company’s investment real estate. There was no argument. There was nothing nasty. It was just a philosophical disagreement that I’ve bumped up against numerous times in the last couple of years.
I’m confident about my approach and about the financial results I’ve consistently achieved with the property, but an investor was fretting about some expenses I was approving for maintenance and repairs. Investors never like to spend money — and I felt the icy judgment of his disapproving words. It felt like a personal attack, even though it wasn’t personal. I seriously wanted to quit. Right then and there.
The next day, I reported some income figures to the same investor. He was ecstatic, because I was bringing in cash better than he ever had when he managed the property for himself. He praised me, as he’s done on other occasions — and I felt elated.
Then the clear truth hit me. My self-worth is far too tied up in whether I make someone happy with me or not. I can be incredibly high or disturbingly low, depending on whether someone approves of me. And it’s not emotionally healthy to be affected that way.
I’ve learned this lesson a hundred times, but I keep forgetting — just as I forget dozens of important lessons — so I keep having to learn them all over again.