Every once in a while you meet someone who shits on your dreams big time.
I’m not talking about someone who questions what you’ve got, or someone who asks tough questions. Those people are called friends.
I’m talking about someone who outright, right off the bat, tells you “good luck!” with an asshole-like smirk on his/her face.
I’m talking about the parent who immediately scoffs and frowns and tells you to “be realistic” – not even for a second does an excited smile cross his face.
I’m talking about the friend who responds with “Don’t we all wish we could do that…”
It can be extremely demoralizing to constantly run into people like that.
They become psychological barriers – it’s the same reason why inner city kids don’t see any way out from where they are and 99% don’t even try to get out. It’s the same reason why kids who are told that they are “useless pieces of shit” become useless pieces of shit. And it’s the same reason why you (if you hang around with these people long enough) will go on to tell others to “be realistic.”
… Which is why it is extremely important to learn how to deal with these people. I mean, are they right? Are they wrong? Am I being naive? Do I have the skills and tools I need to be able to live this out?
Maybe you start doubting yourself, maybe you put your projects on hold, or maybe you just quit all together. But before you do any of those, remember these few things:
#1 Why other people are about as useful as a poo-flavored lollipop
“There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.”
Something I very frequently say is this: Most of the time, people who doubt you and don’t understand your fire to pursue a dream haven’t done so themselves.
… Which means that they have no experience on the matter. Which means you should take their advice or criticism with a huge ass grain of salt.
There’s a problem in the modern world because of all the information we have access to. We’re all armchair “experts” — fat people are giving out advice on how to lose weight, skinny people are giving advice on how to gain muscle, people who have never run a business are giving business advice.
What the bloody hell is going on here?
It’s because “knowing” the path and “walking” the path are very, very different. One takes a few moments to walk and talk about. The other takes years or a lifetime. One takes 5 minutes. One takes 3,000 hours. Big difference. And experience and knowledge are two very different beasts.
So when someone is saying you can’t do something, when that criticism burns deep inside you and you want to go into your shell (or maybe punch them in the face), ask yourself if they “Know” the path or if they’re “walking” the path.
Surprisingly, most of the time, the people who give out shitty generic rain-on-your-parade advice often fall into the first category. Which is reassuring — because that means they know very little from an experiential standpoint.
A lot of the time when people tell me some generic you-can’t-do-it advice, I ask them this: “Since you’re apparently the guru and have a wealth of experience doing this, what have you done with your time?”
Maybe they are the rare individual who has done something. If so, congrats, you’ve found a mentor.
Most likely they aren’t. Most likely they watch their 2-3 hours of law and order in the evenings. Most likely they’re overweight. Most likely they’ve been stuck for 1,5, 10, 20 years. Most likely they’re slightly envious.
So remember this: the advice from people who haven’t walked the path is often not very useful. Take their advice with that in mind.
#2 Why people are your most important prison-escape asset
A second ago I just said people are often dumbasses and their advice is useless. So why am I saying that people are your most important asset for seeing through this shit called the rat race?
The wrong people have the remarkable ability to keep you stuck, indefinitely.
The right people have the remarkable ability to help you improve yourself, keep that fire under your ass to keep moving, and grow grow grow grow grow.
Imagine these two different scenarios:
A. You’ve got friends that have 9 to 5’s. They may like their jobs, they may not. When they get home they engage in generic time wasting. The weekend is also generic time wasting with a social factor thrown in. They are all pretty complacent and at a “good” level of material wealth for their age and demographic. Their lives are good but there isn’t much variety. After having a few beers with them you feel a little disillusioned with life, like there’s nothing great out there for you. “Is this all there is?” often crosses your mind.
B. You’ve got friends that may or may not have 9 to 5’s. Regardless of their work situation they constantly strive for growth. Some strive to be entrepreneurs, some strive for smarter ways to work. In the after-work hours, they work tirelessly on their next project – something they love, learning a new skill, or preparing for their next trip abroad. They constantly try new things, and after having a few beers with them they make you feel like you can do anything and should do something important with your time.
Just think about the massive inertia you have to overcome with scenario A’s friends. That takes an extremely rare individual with a rare mindset and rare circumstances.
The odds of breaking free are in your favor with type B friends that push you to grow.
# 3 Are you naive ambitious or committed ambitious?
Here’s where you have to be honest with yourself.
As far as I see it, there are two types of ambitious people or “dreamers.”
The first is the naive ambitious. They’re the people who love lofty-talk and magically think they’ll make millions of dollars making paintings, while neglecting the process, all the business skills required, all the work and the small pieces of the puzzle. They think they’ll just magically “figure it out” and lump sums of cash will fall in their laps.
Naive ambitious types are ignorant of reality. And the reality is that making paintings takes work. And selling them takes a shit ton more work. And making millions off them takes another shit ton of work. And it takes skills and failures and it’s a process and it’s anything but easy. But it’s possible. It just doesn’t happen by “hoping for the best” – it happens from a carefully calibrated strategy with constant changes, morphs and adaptations.
On the other hand is the committed ambitious type. The committed learns the skills required. The committed one sits down and learns, piece by piece, how to takes the steps required to sell those paintings. The committed one makes a list of the skills required and then learns them. The committed sees start to finish and everything in between – and then takes that next baby step.
“Interest reads a book; commitment applies the book 50 times. Interest wants to start a business; commitment files LLC paperwork. Interest works on your business an hour a day Monday through Friday; commitment works on your business seven days a week whenever time permits. Interest leases an expensive car; commitment rides a bike and puts the money into your system. Interest is looking rich; commitment is planning to be rich. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, didn’t build the most-used social networking site by being interested. He was committed. Thomas Edison didn’t invent the light bulb by interest; he was committed. Interest is quitting after the third failure; commitment is continuing after the hundredth.
Most people aren’t willing, and it separates the winners from the losers. The idea of living in the rat race for 50 years has to be more painful than the idea of working your ass off to escape it. You can have mediocre comfort now or meteoric comfort later. “
From –The Millionaire Fastlane
Be honest with yourself: are you the artsy type saying “you’ll just find a way” to make a million dollars? Or are you a committed person (any type) who is willing to learn anything and everything to take each baby step, not at all deceiving yourself that it’ll all “magically fall in place” ?
What is one of the oldest wisdom inscriptions in the world? Know thyself. If you’re committed ambitious, you find this thing to be a compulsion rather than a choice, why are you worrying about what other people tell you?
#4 Consider the alternative
If you are bummed out because someone rained on your parade, consider the alternative. What if you just took their advice without even thinking twice about it?
What if you joined them and just became predictable, a pure armchair “expert,” a person who knows the path rather than a person who walks the path?
What if you went back to living a complacent life on your little piece of earth you work 40 hours a week for? What if you went back to bashing dreamers who are working their asses off to change their lot? What if you went back to an ordinary existence where you wanted nothing great or different from life. It’d be a totally different world – one that I personally am not willing to go back to.
For most of us, myself included, there is no choice as we see it. I’m not willing to go back to the way most people live. If someone says something that temporarily gets you down, take a break.
If you’re really serious about this and you see it like you have no other option, you’ll get back up on your feet and keep going.
#5 Don’t take advice from the average
A little while back I talked about why not to take advice from the average. I’m assuming you’re reading this because you don’t want an ordinary life. You want something different.
Living extraordinarily is anything but easy. It’s fucking hard and it takes a long time to get there. It’s easy to lose the passion, the fire and will to break free over the years. It takes constant work to keep feeding the fire, the inspiration, or maybe the dissatisfaction.
You have to see it as a mission, as one of the most important obligations in your life.
You have to realize that the advice from average people living average lies with painfully average existences will only get you where they got.
Whether it’s your friends or your parents or someone you just met – remind yourself of one thing: it’s easier to bash someone’s dreams than live your own.
It’s easier for me to say someone is a dumbass who can’t accomplish anything, than go out and accomplish something myself. It’s mental laziness.
It’s a symptom of all the armchair experts that exist now.
It’s a symptom of an extremely sick and backward society.
But worst of all – it’s a symptom of someone who has lost that fire in their eyes. That will to improve, that desire to go after their craziest, wildest dreams. The desire to constantly improve and really use time wisely.
How do you know if someone’s on their path? How do you know when someone is living out their personal legend, creating their own story and blazing their own trail?
Look in their eyes – you’ll either see eyes that are excited or you won’t.
So the next time someone comes and decides to lazily criticize you and your dreams, rather than go work on their own, look into their eyes and you’ll know how to respond.
Behind every miserable, cynical bastard is a person who has been told “you can’t” too many times, and one day, decided to believe it.