By Eunice Aber
I have had this problem for far too long. Or rather, I’m finally tired enough of this thorn in my side to talk about. I call it “A Basket Full of Water”. Crazy right? Ever imagined a basket full of water? I could never have imagined it had I not arrived at this “point of no-return”.
Now that your curiosity has been piqued, let me explain what I’m talking about. The fact is all of us have experienced this, either as victims or perpetrators. Some call it the blame game. I call it the “opinion cycle”. I call it a cycle because it is two way. We are fond of giving our opinions, even when unsolicited, especially as women. But what’s worse is that we, women, are fond of taking people’s opinions as “gospel truths”.
Remember that brilliant idea that you had? The one that failed to see the light of day simply because a friend or relative said it wasn’t good enough; or, better yet, you weren’t good enough or ready enough to pursue it. You’re probably thinking of that great move that you shied away from, simply because your mind asked you that very dangerous question, “What will people say about this?”
I see you nodding your head in agreement. Well, you may have passively heard about this issue or even thought about how irritating and unproductive opinions are when we allow them to deter us from achieving our goals. They are really a waste of time. Don’t get me wrong, there are opinions that are necessary and should actually be sought after. But what we are talking about here are the unnecessary opinions. Those ones that keep us from progressing. They normally come disguised; looking very valid, very true, very reasonable and very logical. But the truth is, no one ever said the most logical way is the best way. Albert Einstein, the famed scientist, also thought about this issue and concluded that if an idea doesn’t look unreasonable to the people around you, then you have no business pursuing it. He went ahead to brilliantly state, “If at first an idea is not absurd. There is no hope for it”. No opinion should be able to deter you from pursuing what you are convinced about.
To make this issue sound even more absurd, the people who are so good at giving advice may have no experience in what they are advising about. Let’s take the example of a single woman – with all due respect to single women, of which I am one – who’s never been in a relationship for more than a year, advising you on how to handle your marriage. Or criticizing the way you handle your marriage, children and husband. Don’t you find that absurd? Or someone who has failed at managing a business criticizing decisions you make in a business you have been able to sustain for over five years. This issue may seem light, but many have fallen victim to these unsolicited pieces of advice and were the worst for it.
This doesn’t in anyway mean we should stop seeking other people’s opinions on certain issues. One of the proverbs in the Bible says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed”. So, as I call upon all of us women to move forward and pursue our different goals in life, without caring about unnecessary opinions, I also encourage women to learn to seek the right counsel. Seeking counsel or advice doesn’t mean going to everyone that has something to say, but looking for those people that you know will give you honest and helpful opinions. I must say that such people are few in life, to have at least three of them is better than having a room full of gold. These people will propel you to greater heights. These are the kind of people who will give you honest opinions, even if it hurts you. Even if it hurts them. These are the ones that don’t spend time figuring out how to gain from you, but rather how they can help you gain more for yourself. And, most importantly, these are people that have knowledge and wisdom. They are people that have had either rich experiences that can help you or have, through vigorous study and research, gained enough knowledge to help you make the right decisions. Each and every one of us needs such people!
So what exactly does “A Basket full of Water” mean? As we all know, a basket has holes. So, imagining a basket full of water is quite hard, but let’s try. When you pour water into a basket, it is obviously going to flow out through the holes. As a mathematician, I know that when the rate at which water is being added into the basket is higher than the rate at which it is leaving the basket, then there can be a point at which the basket is able to hold water, and even remain full.
So it is with opinions. Believe it or not, the rate at which we get opinions is much higher than the rate at which we let go of them. Just like the water, not all opinions must be kept. Some must be allowed to flow out. The basket has no choice as to which type of water it retains and which one it allows to flow out. We, on the other hand, have to make choices and thank God we have the ability to make the right ones.
So, as we move on in business, career and life, let’s be that “basket full of water” – seeking and retaining those good opinions that propel us forward while allowing those discouraging and unhelpful opinions to graciously flow out of us. As a matter of fact, these bad opinions may not be entirely unhelpful. Pick what you can to help you in shaping your ideas and goals; but never let any of them discourage you or deter you from achieving whatever you set your heart on.
The right path for you is your choice and yours alone.