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Why Being Popular Isn’t as Cool as It Looks

Why Being Popular Isn’t as Cool as It Looks

We’ve all heard the old adage, “Here today, gone tomorrow.” It summarizes the idea of how fleeting popularity is in our society today. Take a look around. Football stars, movie stars, political figures, coaches, and CEOs of major companies all have one thing in common: they were popular, and then they fell from grace.

Norv Turner got the ax in San Diego because his team wasn’t winning. Tim Tebow got the boot over Peyton Manning in Denver, and, yes, Michael Jordon really got cut from his High School basketball team. Why? Because according to the world’s standards, they didn’t perform well enough. Folks like Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods learned the hard way that popularity can quickly go to your head and lead you to do some pretty messed up stuff. These were superstars, and they all fell from grace — hard. Movie stars aren’t even immune from being dethroned. Their popularity can fold like a deck of cards, if not forever, at least for a time: Tom Cruise, Brittany Spears, and Ben Affleck all took hits for their performances — or lack there of.

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The bottom line is this: being popular is great, but it comes with a price. If you’re not producing, you’re done. That’s not a pleasant thought, but a necessary one to consider. While popularity has its perks, it also has its pitfalls. You don’t have to have the notoriety of a superstar to struggle with wanting to stay on top; you can be jealous of your best friend, a sibling, your boss, or just about anyone.

The truth is, being popular isn’t always the coolest thing to be. In fact, there are a great many more attributes that far outweigh being popular. So if you’re tired of being on the performance treadmill and trying to win popularity through the world’s standards, here are a few things to consider:

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Being popular….

Doesn’t last forever

Unless you’re Oprah, or if Elvis is still in the building, popularity can be fleeting. Instead of focusing on being popular, focus on how you want to be remembered in life. Strive to build a legacy that will last and that can be passed on to generations after you. Ask yourself how you want the people who really mattered to you in life to remember you, and plan your life accordingly. You may not be the most popular person in the world, but you’ll be the most popular person in your world.

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Keeps you on the performance treadmill

It takes a lot of effort and stamina to develop popularity and sustain it. That means you’re only as good as your last performance. Whether you’re a car salesman or a top NFL football player, if you aren’t making it happen every week, you’re done. Even if you’re a people-pleaser, you’re still putting yourself on the performance treadmill. You always have to do a good audience analysis, find out what people want you to say or do, and do it so they’ll like you. You can’t be free to express how you really feel because you’re afraid others may reject you. So you keep running, never realizing who you really are apart from your performance.

Puts your focus on self

If you’re always worried about what people think, you can never rest. You will always have to say the right things, perform perfectly, look perfectly, and act perfectly. In other words, you have to always be focused on YOU! Even for a narcissist, that can get old. Thinking about yourself too much hinders you from developing empathy toward others. When we’re “other-focused” and think about paying things forward, we’ll not only feel better about ourselves, we’ll generally get what we want.

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I’m not saying being popular isn’t nice. I was popular in High School, but looking back, I can see how it created some false beliefs in my life that hindered me from walking in real peace and rest.

If you’re tired of performing to be successful, take a risk and jump off the treadmill for a while. You might like how it feels, and, who knows, you might never want to jump on again!

Back at you: How has the drive to be popular stolen your joy? Any suggestions for jumping off the treadmill?

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Rita Schulte LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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