I don't recall how I first came across this book, whether someone recommended it to me, or why in particular I felt the need to read it. But 7 Habits of Highly Effective People became one of the most influential books I ever read.
I never even read the whole thing. I think I read only the first 3 Habits, but they were transformative to me, and I think they have strong implications for musicians and performers.
My main takeaway from this book was that we give power over our lives to other people. When we care about what they think of us, and when we care about what others think about us. When we think a peer or colleague must be spending their waking hours looking for our mistakes and awaiting our downfall.
Before I read this book, I used to think that as I walked down the street, people passing me by were judging what I looked like, how I walked, what facial expression I had. Presumably at some point in my life, I learned that some, one, person was indeed judging me in this way. But this book revealed a secret:
Almost no one is thinking about me, because they're too busy thinking about themselves. If everyone is worried about what other people think about them, they don't have time to actually think about other people. All of this worrying is for nothing. Anyone who's in on the secret has so much freedom to take care of themselves. And it's when we are free of this fear that we get to build ourselves up to love and serve others.
This doesn't mean we shouldn't be immune to criticism or learning from those wiser and more experienced than us. We should be open to careful and constructive moments of learning, which will happen to us constantly. Not allowing others to control our lives means understanding the differences between judgment and well-intentioned criticism.
For pianists, we should absolutely seek out other teachers who want us to grow as artists. But by rejecting the judgement of others, we can be free to develop as individuals, true to the music we understand historically, theoretically and personally.
"Modern performers seem to regard their performances as texts rather than acts, and to prepare for them with the same goal as present-day textual editors: to clear away accretions. Not that this is not a laudable and necessary step; but what is an ultimate step for an editor should be only a first step for a performer, as the very temporal relationship between the functions of editing and performing already suggests." -Richard Taruskin, Text and Act