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I recently started cooking again.  I’ve never been much of a cook, but I do enjoy fixing meals for whom I care and love.  The reason I gave up cooking was I dated a guy who was so picky in what he ate I found myself paralyzed while preparing meals for our enjoyment.  Things were either too spicy or not hot (temperature) enough, too bland or not fresh enough.  After a few attempts to make things happen, I simply gave up.  Worse, I began to doubt myself in my ability to cook a good meal.

If you know me, you know that I don’t accept defeat easily, yet I gave up cooking after only a few tries.  I think the reason I let a few cooking failures overwhelmed me is it came from somebody I cared about a lot.  He was definitely a dear friend whose opinions I respected tremendously.  So when he disapproved of my cooking, I automatically felt I was inadequate.  Now that he is no longer part of my life, I am able to dissociate his opinions from my reality and spend more time in the kitchen again.

It did not dawn on me until this weekend that I had been so profoundly affected by one person’s opinion about me.  But when I looked deeper, I realized it wasn’t so much he had such power over me as much as my own willingness to allow those closest to me to take the wind right out of my sail, sort to speak.  This is generally true with my parents, my siblings, and my closest friends.  More often than not, they would offer harmless advice or opinions, but because I regarded them so highly I internalized and weighed those advice a lot more than I would with the same advice or opinions from others.  In that way, my closest allies could very well turn out to be my worst enemies!

There are actually two lessons I learned from this exercise:

  1. I should always consciously re-weigh the opinions of those around me — the closer the ally, the more I should be aware of their ultimate impact on me.
  2. I should also be conscious of the advice and opinion I give to those closest to me.  A few harmless words may end up meaning more than I intend and cause harm to those I love and care about.

How about you?  How profoundly are you affected by the opinions of your closest allies?  Please share in the comments sections.

On Friday, July 25, I wept for a man I’ve never met. I am sure thousands did the same. The man was Randy Pausch, most well-known for the “Last Lecture” he delivered. I recently finished his book also by the same title, and that’s what prompted me to write this post. If you enjoyed his lecture, you will find his book equally if not more inspiring.

In the book, he talked a lot about reaching out and making a difference in people’s lives. He said one of his goals in life had always been to teach young students to think for themselves, and he gave examples of how he made that happen on a one-to-one scale as well as on a one-to-million scale. Reading those words in the book made me want to reach out and make a difference in those around me too.

It’s one thing to be inspired, but quite another to realize the task at hand is daunting. Not wanting to be discouraged so easily, however, I turned to the web to search for assurance that I can make a difference. The following clip did just that for me. Humor aside, it shows how a few persons can influence people who don’t even know them. I need to remember and apply that to my quest in reaching out and making a difference. I hope it, too, can convince you that everybody can be an influence — yourself included.

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August 2020