Do you honestly think the cat cares what others think about it, as it focuses on the fish in the bowl, and getting a quick snack? I think not! Do you really believe a toddler is worried about the opinions of others as he or she strives to take that first step, yet falls time and time again? I know that’s not the case. I know for a fact that my dog, Joia, does not care what my opinion of her is, when she barks to be let out for a wee at 2am. This being the case, why are so many people more concerned about what other people think about them, and then allow those opinions to stop them from focusing on the thing or things that will most bless their lives?

I, like many people, care about other people’s opinions… far too much. I was born into a loving family and experienced what many describe as, the middle-child syndrome. My older brother was smart, talented and well behaved. I distinctly remember at primary school being reprimanded and then asked by my teacher, who had taught my brother in previous years, why I couldn’t be more like him. Then my little sister was born, and my troubles really started. She was so ridiculously cute, that everyone poured attention her way. So, here was I, stuck in the middle of a goody-two-shoes brother and gorgeously cute sister thinking, ‘what about me?’

If you are a middle child, you may relate to what I’m saying here, and that is; I would do almost anything for attention and approval, and, what others thought about me was important. I was so in need of attention, it motivated me to make decisions that seemed totally illogical, just to get attention. The only reason I aspired to and played senior professional football was because I saw it as a way to be noticed and approved of. That desire drove me through many challenges and setbacks to make it to the top level in that sport.

I was involved, as a player, in professional football for seven years, starting at the age of sixteen through to the age of twenty-three. My career spanned from, the last years of my secondary schooling, all through my tertiary education, and into my early career as a teacher. The life of a professional sportsperson is one of much sacrifice, if making it to a high level of success is the goal. Going out late at night, drinking alcohol and poor food choices need to be curtailed, if ultimate achievement is the aspiration. Now, when you are in your teens and early twenties, the greatest challenge is peer group pressure and succumbing to the opinions of others. Well, it was for me anyway.

My four year tertiary education was where my downfall, as a long-term athlete, was beginning to spiral. I wasn’t strong enough to withstand the pressure from my peers to abstain from nights of excessive alcoholic consumption. The opinions of my mates were more important, at that time, than trying to withstand and resist their ridicule and comments about me. So, I capitulated and lost focus of my objective to be a fabulously successful footballer for many years to come. I woke up one Saturday, two weeks after the end of the season, and having played in a grand final for the club, to read in the newspaper that I had been de-listed. The literal translation is, I was sacked!

What people think about me is none of my business!

This was a devastating time of my life, and one I didn’t come to terms with for many years. I was young and dumb and couldn’t accept that it was my fault I was sacked. I couldn’t see that it was because my determined focus had shifted, and my vulnerability to the opinions of other people had resulted in compromising the one real objective in my life, at that time. As I write this, I have mixed emotions. Looking back, I’m actually grateful I didn’t continue in professional sport, because maybe if I had, I wouldn’t have discovered my true purpose. On the other hand, I always wonder, if I stayed focused on that objective, how far I could have got. Well, I can’t change the past, I can only l learn the lessons and use them to guide my future.

The main lesson is that you can either focus on opinions or objectives, and, focusing on the wrong opinions of others will lead to regret. You see, what I have realised is that if I listen to people, I will live like them, and I can tell you, I don’t want to live like most people. Therefore, their opinion of me and what they think I should do is not only irrelevant, but, none of my business.

Now, over to you. If you are reading my blogs, it’s not because you have nothing better to do with your time, right? I’m guessing it’s because you have aspirations and objectives in life. Am I correct? That being the case, I have a question for you; will you focus on your objective or the opinions of others? If you focus on your objective, anything is possible and the sky is the limit. If you focus on the negative opinions of others you will crash and burn, of that I am certain.

Other people’s opinions can cause doubt and confusion, if you listen to them. They can take your eyes off the focus of your aspiration. So, with my strongest encouragement, I urge you to put on your blinkers, put plugs in your ears and run hard at your objective. Then, to support it and protect yourself; read positive books, listen to empowering audios and associate with successful and supportive people, every single day. This will give you an impenetrable suit of armor that will guard you from the words, attitudes and opinions of ignorant people who think they are giving you sound advice, when really it’s not advice, just a lot of sound! I was just listening to my daily audio the other day, and the speaker said this; when your vision gets clearer, your options get fewer.

What he meant was, when you get totally and laser focused on what you want, you are not distracted by the external noise of the world and the opinions of others. I can totally vouch for that. In the early stages of working and slogging my way to the top as a professional footballer, I was so focussed on making it, I had no interest of what others thought about the fact that I was too skinny and not that talented. When I decided to write a book and become a successful best-selling author, I was so obsessed with navigating the process to get it done, I didn’t hear the opinions of naysayers about my lack of time, experience and qualifications as a writer.

Wouldn’t it be a tragedy if you gave up on your objective because of the opinion of someone who has no vested interest in you, your life or your success? Wouldn’t it be a devastating shame if you listened to someone who really had no idea what they were talking about, and, you handed your dream to them and allowed them to flush it down the toilet? That’s exactly what you are doing when you listen to, even the most well-meaning, opinions of others. Are you ready to fight? Are you ready to win? If you are, then always remember; the objective is more important than opinion!