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  • Transcriber: María Constanza Cuevas Reviewer: Tanya Cushman

  • (Referee whistle sound)

  • Good evening!

  • Good evening. How are you?

  • Are you good? Great!

  • Welcome, welcome, welcome to this match.

  • This match will take exactly 18 minutes.

  • OK? And you're all part of the same team:

  • Mechelen.

  • OK?

  • Hey guys, I would like to see fair play on the field,

  • respect and positivity.

  • Is that OK for everyone?

  • Cool.

  • Good luck!

  • One year ago, I decided I wanted to become a football referee.

  • Not because of the money, though.

  • I only get paid 20 euros per match.

  • So I won't really get rich by it, will I?

  • No. I decided to become a referee for two other reasons.

  • One - to stay in good shape.

  • Two - because I wanted to learn how not to take things personally.

  • [How not to take things personally?]

  • I can see some people nodding.

  • You are probably thinking,

  • "Being a referee is the perfect environment

  • to learn how not to take things personally, isn't it?"

  • Because the spectators hardly ever shout encouraging or positive things.

  • No. What do they shout?

  • Come on, come on.

  • [Audience:] "Loser! Are you blind?"

  • Yeah, yeah, good!

  • As a referee, I am the scapegoat.

  • Apparently, I'm always wrong.

  • It's always my fault.

  • And I wanted to learn how not to take all this personally.

  • Because I really struggle with this.

  • For example, when I drive slowly

  • because I'm trying to find a specific location

  • and somebody is just driving behind me,

  • I feel hunted.

  • Especially when they start honking and flashing their headlights,

  • I take it personally.

  • I know I shouldn't, but it just happens.

  • Do you see what I mean?

  • Or when somebody cancels an appointment last minute,

  • I get the feeling that I'm not important enough.

  • Again, I take it personally.

  • Even professionally.

  • I'm a public speaker, like tonight.

  • This is what I do.

  • I give keynote speeches, and I really like it

  • as long as I can draw my audience into my story.

  • Because the very moment I see somebody is not paying attention -

  • for example, when somebody is looking at his smartphone -

  • (snap) it just happens:

  • I take it personally.

  • Relax!

  • You are safe tonight. Don't worry.

  • Feel free to take your smartphones,

  • and you can even start talking to your neighbor.

  • I will not take it personally.

  • Why not?

  • Because now, here and now, I'm very conscious that this can happen.

  • And more importantly, I have a strategy to deal with it.

  • So tonight, I would like to share this strategy with you.

  • Are you interested?

  • Cool.

  • Because, I guess, I'm not the only person in this room

  • who sometimes takes things personally, right?

  • Imagine -

  • imagine you invite a friend to go to the movies, and she replies,

  • "Oh, sorry, I have to work."

  • But you see a picture on social media

  • of her having dinner with some friends that very night!

  • Or imagine you really have worked very hard on a project.

  • You're really proud of the end result,

  • but the only thing you get is criticism.

  • So you come home,

  • and you would like to wind down and share this terrible experience.

  • But while you're telling your story,

  • the other one walks away to switch on the TV.

  • Now, who would take one of these situations personally?

  • Show me hands, come on.

  • Lots of you.

  • Why?

  • Why do we take things personally?

  • Somebody says or does something and bam!

  • We feel hurt, neglected, offended, betrayed by the other one.

  • That's what we believe, though.

  • It's the other person's fault.

  • He's responsible for what we feel.

  • He's the one to blame.

  • Now, hang on, hang on.

  • Who says that?

  • Which part of us is speaking?

  • [Why?]

  • [Ego]

  • It's our ego.

  • Our ego thinks that others should take us into consideration.

  • Our ego doesn't want to be criticized, hell no!

  • Our ego wants to be acknowledged:

  • "I'm right!"

  • Is this what you want?

  • Do you want to be right?

  • [Do you want to be right?]

  • (Sigh)

  • That's exhausting.

  • When my ego takes over, I'm fighting all day.

  • I'm in a constant struggle with the rest of the world.

  • And it drains my energy.

  • Wouldn't it be so much easier to not take things personally?

  • Because then no one has power over you.

  • You're free.

  • You experience much more harmony and connection

  • between you and other people.

  • Of course!

  • Because your energy can go towards nice things

  • instead of endlessly battling against the things that drive you crazy.

  • So the question is

  • do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?

  • I know what some of you are thinking:

  • "I will make sure I will be happy by being right."

  • Well, how do you do it?

  • How to become happy by not taking things personally?

  • You are standing at the kickoff of the match of your life,

  • the match by which you will learn how to stop taking things personally.

  • So as a referee, I brought my coin for the toss.

  • And every coin has two sides: heads or tails.

  • And they stand for two strategies,

  • two strategies to no longer taking things personally.

  • Sir, sir, good evening.

  • You're the captain of this huge team.

  • You can choose: heads or tails?

  • ("Captain") Heads.

  • Okay.

  • You're lucky. It's heads!

  • Are you ready for the first strategy?

  • OK, here it comes.

  • First strategy -

  • It's not about me.

  • What do you mean it's not about me?

  • This sounds weird, doesn't it?

  • Because when I take things personally, I'm convinced it is about me.

  • When I see someone is looking at his phone, I feel offended.

  • I think, "Hey, I've put so much effort and time in this presentation.

  • I want respect."

  • I think, "Me, myself and I."

  • Sounds familiar, no? Yeah.

  • But in fact, it isn't about me.

  • What if I try to look at it from the other person's perspective,

  • asking myself,

  • "Why? Why is he or she looking at his or her smartphone?"

  • Maybe he has just received an important message, one he has been waiting for.

  • Or the topic of my presentation is not really his cup of tea.

  • Could be!

  • Or, on the contrary, he finds it very interesting

  • and he wants to take notes on his smartphone.

  • Very smart to do that, by the way.

  • I simply need to shift my focus from "me" to "we,"

  • and I won't take it personally.

  • If I try to see the intention of the other one,

  • I make space for understanding instead of irritation.

  • Does this ring a bell with you?

  • When you put your son to bed but he doesn't want to,

  • he throws himself on the floor, kicking and screaming "I hate you!"

  • Do you take that personally?

  • No!

  • No, you don't because you know this is not about me.

  • It's about what he wants, what he needs.

  • He's angry because he just wants to stay up a bit longer, that's all.

  • So the first strategy to not take it personally is

  • it's not about me.

  • Look at the other person's intention.

  • When a driver is tailgating and flashing his lights,

  • he probably does it because he's in a hurry.

  • It's not about me, you see?

  • It's as simple as that.

  • In theory.

  • Because in real life, it turns out to be a hell of a job.

  • Do you have any idea, ladies and gentlemen,

  • how many thoughts our brain produces a day?

  • 50,000!

  • And guess how many of them are positive?

  • Only 10,000.

  • So this means that 80% of what we think are negative thoughts.

  • That's a lot, isn't it?

  • When you see two colleagues talking to each other,

  • and just then, they look at you and they start laughing,

  • do you think,

  • "Oh, they must have noticed my new shoes and they want them too"?

  • No!

  • Or do you think,

  • "Darn, they're laughing at me.

  • They are gossiping about me."

  • So it takes a lot of effort to correct yourself and say,

  • "Hang on. I have no clue!

  • They might be laughing about something that has nothing to do with me."

  • So seeing the positive intention of the other one

  • requires a lot of discipline and training.

  • And that's why I became a referee:

  • to train my brain not to take things personally.

  • I train my brain an hour and a half a week,

  • the entire period of a match.

  • I say this for the football dummies.

  • Now, before the match, I'm warming up.

  • Not only physically, but also mentally.

  • I give myself some pep talk in the dressing room:

  • "Frederik, watch out.

  • Lots of things will trigger you during the game.

  • You're going to make decisions who some will not agree with

  • and they will shout unpleasant things at you."

  • So I tell myself,

  • "Frederik, don't take it personally.

  • It's not about me.

  • They just want to be right.

  • They simply want their team to win."

  • You see?

  • When I focus on the intention of the other person,

  • there's no need to take it personally.

  • When I apply this strategy very consciously,

  • I admit it, I feel much more at ease on the field.

  • When the coach, the players or the spectators

  • do not agree with my decisions,

  • I'm less easily thrown off balance.

  • This strategy, ladies and gentlemen, works!

  • But not always, unfortunately.

  • Because some words they shout at me, like here, do really hit a raw nerve:

  • "You're a loser. Choose another hobby!

  • You know what? Go fishing!"

  • Ouch!

  • Maybe they are right.

  • Perhaps I took the wrong decision.

  • Maybe I am a loser.

  • Honestly, that's how I feel sometimes.

  • Do you see this?

  • Every coin has a flip side.

  • When this first strategy - it's not about me - doesn't work,

  • it simply means "It is about me!"

  • [It is about me.]

  • I have to look in the mirror and question myself.

  • As a beginning referee, I still feel insecure.

  • Especially me.

  • I never played soccer.

  • It is about me

  • because it has something to do with my insecurity,

  • I doubt about myself.

  • Or a part of myself that I haven't come to terms with.

  • Do you see my point, ladies and gentlemen?

  • Even if I know

  • that a driver is only tailgating because he's in a hurry,

  • I still take it personally when he honks or he's flashing his headlights.

  • So I must question myself.

  • Probably I was driving too slowly.

  • I'm aware of it.

  • I just don't like that clumsy part of myself.

  • Why else would I take it personally, right?

  • When I say,

  • "Ladies and gentlemen, you are an orange,"