I'm working on a new project doing something I've rarely done before and feeling a bit out of my element. When I'm in meetings I find myself trying to sound more intelligent about the material than I am.
I recognize that I'm trying to impress the manager and even the person I'm leading to convince them that I really can get the job done, when really I wonder if I'm trying to convince myself. More than anything though I find myself incredibly focused on trying to get their approval and impress them with the work I've done.
Looking at this a bit more objectively I'm finding that the importance of someone's opinion of me seems to be inversely proportional to the closeness of the relationship I have with the person.
For example, when the project manager calls to ask me to do something I tend to take a break from what I was doing and complete the task right away. When I get home at night and Erin asks me to do something it my very well go in one ear and out the other. At the very least I'll finish what I'm doing before taking care of what she'd like.
Another good example comes from reading books. Whenever I read a book, especially a non-fiction book, the author becomes an expert in the field and what they are saying is almost irrefutable. It hasn't been until the last few years that I've begun to break through that idea, though I still fall victim to it a lot. On the flip side, if a friend of mine tells me some piece of information or useful fact I don't believe it until I've verified it in some other way. Until it's been backed up, it's not true.
As we get to know a person better we tend to understand what they are thinking and what they hold important. As an acquaintance becomes a friend we figure out that they don't really care whether our hair is a mess or not.
When I first met my wife I couldn't dress well enough. I didn't try to be obvious about it, but I sure tried to dress well whenever I know I was going to see her (as the song says, "I'd get dressed up to go watch TV with her"). As time went by I realized that she cared about me regardless of how I looked, and I realized it was ok to not get all dressed up just to go hang out somewhere last minute. Then we got married and it's become ok for me to wear jeans with holes and pajamas with frayed cuffs.
I wonder what would happen if we flipped those priorities. What if we relaxed around those people we barely know and may come across as uptight to. What if we trusted the people we love instead of needing to verify what they say?
What if I acted on a request from my wife before that of my boss?
What would the world look like if the opinion of an individual increased as our closeness to the individual increased?
Maybe I could get away with wearing holey jeans more often.