Recently after helping to host a farewell gathering for my supervisor, a colleague came over and shared that I’d done a wonderful job but that I ought to be careful of doing anything too well as people may raise expectations and delegate tasks to me that are clearly not part of my duties. I thanked her and politely smiled, inwardly shocked that she felt so comfortable warning me. In fact her warning made me think of a warning my mother often suggest I heed: “Don’t cast your pearls before swine.” When I reflected on my colleague’s words and my mother’s, I sighed. What it all came down to was women seeing my greatness and cautioning me against squandering it or allowing it to be exploited for someone else’s gain.
Well Bauces, I’m passing on the wisdom to you this week. Be careful of casting your pearls — your dreams, aspirations, and goals — before swine: the person who’s always trying to one up you, never has anything nice to say to or about you, lives in the past, and has no vision for themselves. Be careful of letting your commitment to growth, professionalism, ad excellence be exploited for someone else’s gain, leaving you too drained to re-energize and nurture yourself, your relationships, and your goals.
Instead, show off your pearls to others wearing their own strand. Share your goals and aspirations with those who are just as motivated and driven and can appreciate the value of your vision. People sporting their pearls are usually too busy to steal yours. They are already invested in their own pursuits and can appreciate someone who is doing the same. These are people who don’t have time to be jealous that you got accepted into the MBA program because they are too busy researching fellowships for medical school. They have no problem meeting you at the coffee shop to vent about how the bank rejected your loan because they have been there and are ready to help you tweak your business plan or send you to the person who helped them. Fellow pearl wearers are people who know the world is full of more than enough opportunities and resources to waste time on distracting you or detracting from your ambitious pursuits.
When you cast your pearls before swine, they destroy them. They pull on them to see how far they can stretch them until the strand breaks and pearls, pieces of your dream, are scattered all over the place. They bite on them until they can crack them. They drag them through the mud, their own environment of negativity and garbage, until what once had a soft glow is dull and unrecognizable. When you share your dreams with any ol’ body, you risk the destruction of your dreams. You risk inviting people into your life who don’t want the best for you and will therefore do what they can, usually with consistency and quite subtlety, to weaken, cheapen, and tear down your vision. And, I hate to break it to you, but sometimes the very people that we call friends are actually…swine. Take a minute and think about some of the people in your life that you call friends. Now take a minute to see if they are swine.
- Do they constantly try to play down your success, but say they are kidding and you’re too serious?
- Do they usually have an excuse as to why they couldn’t attend some milestone event in your life but want to curse you out or give you the silent treatment if you miss their events?
- When you share a new idea, is their response somewhere along the lines of “You’re doing too much” or “That’s nice but why don’t you stick to…”
- Even if they don’t say a lot of negative things to you, are they negative about others, constantly criticizing or sharing how others don’t deserve things?
If you are nodding your head, saying yes, amen, or an “mhmm” rose from your stomach without your consent, you got yourself some swine that need to be let loose from your life.
I don’t know about you, but I have pearls and then I have pearls. I have one set that I wear pretty regularly and another that I save for special occasions. I don’t wear the special occasion pearls for trips to Trader Joes, Zara’s, or the annual block party. I wear them for the occasions, the purposes, where they can best be appreciated and valued. Make sure you’re not wearing your special occasion pearls, your dreams, where they won’t be valued among people who only want to tear them off for their own self-validation.