I was listening to a sports commentator and he was speaking about professional athletes who are the best in their chosen careers; yet they are not embraced by the public as likable. The most interesting observation made during the discussion was these athletes didn’t care if you liked them.They honestly don’t care if they are liked by us. They have never bowed to our societal pressure of being more approachable, more lovable and more open to the media. They seem to be emotionally distant except when they are doing their job. They don’t care what we think of them. They only care that they win.
Yet, many of them lead very balanced lives with regard to their humanity toward others and especially their generosity to those family members they cherish. A lot of what they contribute goes unpublished in the local and national media, because they don’t want you to know, so they allow the misconceptions to be discussed without rebuttal.
Yet, the majority of them are adored and highly respected by their teammates. The teammates speak very kindly of their character. They emphatically state “what you think you know of the athlete is not who they are.” A poll among professional athletes was taken regarding these athletes and the curious result was while they were disliked by the public, the overwhelming majority of the athletes polled wanted the athlete on their team. It was their work ethic that was admired, the desire to maximize their full potential and wanting to get the best out of them while the opportunity was present and upon retiring not having any regrets.
So, based on these results, it seems that maybe none of us should really concern ourselves about being liked.
Most likely, the majority of us will ever experience a 9th inning home-run, a putt to win a golf championship, a Hail Mary to win a football game or a last second shot to win a basketball final.
We will never know that feeling. We can only imagine. Yet, while we may never experience that accomplishment, what we can learn is that while we may need to get along with co-workers and associates, we don’t have to be liked to excel in our chosen professions.
How important is it for you to be liked? If you excel within your chosen profession, must you feign an emotional connection with your associates or managers to move within the company? Do you believe that you should “glad-hand” with your Boss in order to be considered for that promotion you desire? What can we learn from these athletes that would translate to our working environment? What is the take away from the poll results that would help us reach our full potential?
The overwhelming factor is that they are good at what they do. They really are. They just don’t care if we like them. Isn’t that something? They make millions of dollars each year and they don’t care if we like them? Their faces grace the pages of many magazines and publications and they don’t care if we like them? If they walked into a room, we would stare and they really wouldn’t care one way or the other? They don’t want to be liked by us and they could care less.
What does this mean for us? It means that what our parents told us as children is correct: Mind your manners and be kind. However, maybe they should have ended the statement by also stating that if you have been kind and were mannerly, then maybe it really is okay that people not like you. They should have also stated that maybe just maybe…one can fully reach their potential and not be adored and liked by the masses. However, at the end of the day, most likely you will be respected.