A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post that garnered a fair amount of positive feedback. Personally, I thought it was one of my better recent pieces.
Then, out of the blue, I got an e-mail from a former colleague that began “I hate to burst your bubble…” This was followed by a series of comments which revealed that a) he absolutely wanted to burst my bubble, b) he had not read my post particularly carefully, since he seemed to miss the key point and c) he was clearly intent on making me see how critical and impressive HIS particular role was in a (mostly) tangential element of my post.
At first I was perplexed. Here was a guy who was way more senior than I was at the time of the story and who’s had considerable success at several major consumer brands. We’ve barely had any contact in almost 15 years. Why was it so important for him to write me?
Then I felt a sense of shame. Maybe I got some of the facts wrong? Perhaps my writing could have been more clear? Was I being too prideful?
Then I was angry. Obviously I needed to set him straight. I imagined a beautifully crafted e-mail response that would re-iterate my keen insight, decimate his line of thinking and make him see what a jerk he was.
After more spinning than I’d care to admit to, I finally came to a realization.
This was about him, not about me.
Did it ultimately matter whether he was right about his perception of events? Do I have to defend my point of view to every person who wants to challenge it? Can I do my best work if I tell myself I can’t ship anything unless I’ve tried to please everyone?
There are many battles I don’t have to fight.
There are plenty of arguments when the right answer is simply: “okay, you win.”
And then I get back to work.