You don’t need OPAArts
“The courage to risk the disapproval of others, while at the same time going through the doubt of self-examination, is rare. When we begin to examine ourselves, we feel most insecure. It is then that we most look for approval. Finding none, many abandon the quest. This is the time for courage and perseverance.”
Laurence G. Boldt: Zen and the Art of Making A Living
Several years ago, business writers were promoting the idea of starting up new companies with OPM – Other People’s Money. Funny thing: since the stock market crash of 2008, you don’t see that reference nearly so much anymore. The fact is, however, that in many cases what holds us back is not the need for OPM but rather the need for OPA – Other People’s Approval. The more authentic you seek to become, the greater will be the disapproval you receive from people around you. This will include people closest to you who think they are being helpful by preventing you from getting into something that could end up being humiliating for you, and, perhaps, for them through association.
If you want to test for yourself how important this need for approval is, and how unlikely you are to receive it for doing something that is out-of-the-box and outrageous, just do this test: go skipping and singing down an airport concourse (what could be more authentic than reliving the joy of a two-year old?). And watch the reaction of people around you. Even your closest friends will suddenly forget that they know you (come to think of it, perhaps you should try this experiment somewhere other than an airport since it’s a virtual guarantee that you will not receive the approval of airport security personnel).
In my book The Healing Tree the character Maggie has a simple test that she applies to her poetry. She calls it the “es freut mich” test. Es freut mich is German for “it pleases me.” Maggie said that as long as her poetry passed the “es freut mich” test she didn’t worry about what others thought.
One more paradox: when your world has turned upside down, you might well have the greatest freedom you will ever have: freedom to break with your old job, your old roles, your old self, and to strike out in new directions. Unfortunately, this is also the time when your ego most needs approval from others but, because your world is upside down, it’s also when you’re least likely to receive it.