(originally posted January 14th, 2006)

I was having a brief discussion with a friend of mine through email on the topic of whether it’s viewed as negative or positive if someone is having a good time, when others may view that same action as being over the top and somewhat embarrassing. She was saying how she and a small group of people were laughing it up and enjoying each other’s company, while many others, I guess the overwhelming majority, seemed to hold onto their deportment and not want to break ranks with the majority. However, it was a holiday party, not a networking or business event (well, it was a company holiday party), so many of the people knew each other.

What may seem like a cop out answer is really more reality than anything else; it depends on how you get to that good time. To me, if you’re inebriated, stoned, or out of control due to factors that indicate you have no control over your actions, then you’re probably kidding yourself in calling that having a good time. If one is in total control of their actions, or at least mostly in control of their actions, then who cares what anyone else is thinking?

It’s an interesting discussion on perception, both from others and yourself, in situations like this. I wrote in tonight’s newsletter how I tend to carry myself differently in public than I do when I’m surrounded by my friends. Truth be told, I can only think of 3 times when I’ve actually let myself go in my adult life, and that was when I got married and the two big parties my wife and I have thrown. I have my reasons for changing up, and I’m not going to get into them right now. However, some would say that I’m not being myself, or honest with others, because I don’t act the same all the time.

And there’s the truth; no one should act the same all the time. Everyone should be themselves when it comes to their values, but if you don’t know that, at a business dinner, you can’t jump up on a table with a lampshade on your head one evening, then not expect those people to view you differently the next day. If you do, you’re not thinking logically. At the same time, if you go to a pool party and end up being the only one not wearing a swim suit, whatever the reason, some might view you as being a stick in the mud also.

Ask yourself this question each time; do you care what someone else thinks at that moment?, or the next day? If you can’t live up to your own values, then why have them? If you did live up to your own values, then why care what anyone else thinks?

We’re all accountable for our own actions, positive or negative. But positive and negative aren’t always a constant. You get your chance every day, at every instance, to evaluate your actions. If you can live with them, then go for it.