It’s Not About You

A favorite coaching client recently received a troubling performance review. He feels paranoid: his colleagues seem to be distancing themselves, as if they somehow know.

He described a coworker who used to be friendly. Now she never stops to chat. “Does she know something I don’t?” he wondered.

I challenged him to ask her. That way he’d know.

The next time he saw her, he smiled at her. And she smiled back at him in relief.

He found out that his colleague’s sister is dying of cancer. She’s been grieving. And nobody had smiled at her all day.

We all create stories to make sense of the world around us. They’re just stories – one of many we could create – as we sift through and interpret the available information. My client has a new mantra he tells himself when he’s starting to feel paranoid: “It’s not about me.”

It almost never is.