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There is Only One Person to Listen To

Daily Stoic Emails

Like any person in power, any person in the public spotlight, any person striving to be great, Marcus struggled with caring too much about what other people thought of him. Good or bad—as animals, we are designed to think this matters, lest our evolutionary ancestors risk being driven from the tribe. So Marcus worked to remind himself that praise and criticism were really the same thing: a clacking of tongues. Throw away the recognition, throw away the gossip, throw away all grousing from your haters, he said—it’s worthless.

What Marcus was reminding himself of is exactly what Nita Strauss, one of the best guitar players in the world, told us when we asked her about dealing with all the noise inherent in an industry defined both by media criticism and adoring fans:

One thing you realize quickly as a female in the music industry is that everyone has a strong opinion about you. It’s been my challenge to isolate my view of myself from anything people say about me, the good or the bad. At the end of the day, none of the criticism or the accolades changes anything real in my life. About two years ago, I stopped reading comments on news articles about me altogether…I used to love the feeling of proving people wrong, of walking out in front of an audience who expected very little of me and changing their minds. Now I find myself focused less on proving people wrong, and more on improving myself and my performance.

That’s what comes from this tuning out—from ignoring the clacking of tongues and hands: More time to focus on your work. More time to listen to the voice inside yourself, the one that knows what you actually believe and who you actually want to be. And most importantly: Peace and stillness. What we want is what Marcus wanted:

“The tranquillity that comes when you stop caring what they say. Or think, or do. Only what you do.” 

You deserve that. You deserve that today. The only person you have to impress is yourself. The only person to listen to is yourself. Because you already know what matters, what good and bad are (or sound like), you already know what is right. 

So listen.

P.S. This was originally sent on May 7, 2020. Sign up today for the Daily Stoic’s email and get our popular free 7-day course on Stoicism.