The Art of Defending Your Dream

by Alexander Heyne · 13 comments

Defending your dream is like hiding a priceless jewel that people are looking for.

People are constantly lurking around every corner looking to steal it from you -to take a piece of it, or take the whole thing if they get the chance.

Defending and protecting your dream quite possibly is one of the loneliest paths in existence, and often is a solitary one.

And unfortunately, the attackers are well-intentioned friends, family, and acquaintances who are merely stuck in a cycle of mediocrity that they have no idea how to escape.

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Just the other day, I was telling someone about my new business pursuit.

It’s something that I invest 4-6 hours a day, 7 days a week into, all while working and keeping up with my ordinary life. In other words – it’s something I’m serious about – not a passing fad, not a fading interest, and not a short-lived passion.

The person I was talking to started off interested, but within 30 seconds just kind of rolled their eyes, wandered off, and starting talking about their own stuff.

It got me thinking – sometimes the people that are most damaging to your confidence are not the people who are outright hostile – it’s often the people who don’t care or don’t believe in you.

When I was 16, a friend of mine told me about her elaborate plan to change the world, in her own unique way.

“Good luck…I’ll believe it when I see it!” I said sarcastically.

“I’d rather you believe in me and I prove you right,” she replied, “rather than you not believe in me and I prove you wrong.”

I never forgot it.

Three Kinds of Dream Parasites

There are three kinds of parasitic people that will try to steal your priceless jewel if you don’t protect it.

A. The Raptors (Aka those mothafuckin’ mediocre folks – who unfortunately often include friends and family)

The raptors don’t sugar coat it and they usually go right for the kill – often because it clashes with their own version of “reality” which they’ve settled for.

“You’re a dumbass.”

“That plans sounds dumb.”

“How are you going to pay for that?”

“What are your parents going to think?”

“Laughter”

Their first response is always doubt.  They never are encouraging – they never say, alright, go for it! Let’s see it. They immediately blowtorch your aspirations.

The raptors are the most offensive of all the dream thieves, and they usually make you feel primal anger. They make you want to say “fuck off, and don’t talk to me ever again.” — and you should.  You don’t need those kind of people around you.

But there’s another problem – raptors are usually friends and family - people you can’t exactly tell to fuck off (well, not all the time, anyways).

The reason that they are usually friends and family is because they know you very well, know your strengths, know your limitations, and most of all, know whether or not you’re full of shit.

Know that the worst blows will often come from friends and family. It’s no coincidence whatsoever.

B. The Sloths (“don’t care”)

The sloths are passive — which is almost as bad as aggressive.

They just nod and smile at everything you say, secretly knowing you won’t, or can’t, do what you’re talking about.

If you say a lot of things and don’t follow through, your life is unfortunately probably filled with many sloths. They’ve observed your past history and often will just nod along (pretending not to put you down), and then go on their way.

Sloths are friends that are slowly living their “lives of quiet desperation,” not trying to stir up too much drama in life, live it out, and then die without making much of a difference.

They have retreated and are building their little garden to tend to.

Unfortunately, even though they aren’t flat-out calling you an idiot, they don’t offer any support. Instead of a room of people telling you to shut up, it’s a quiet room.

C. The Sneaky Bastards(“Envy”) 

Sneaky bastards reek of envy.

Even if you financed  massive trip around the world by yourself, they’ll make a scathing comment about your rich mommy or daddy, or about how “lucky” you are to have a good job that pays for everything.

Sneaky bastards are everywhere – but usually they are friends accustomed to seeing you self-actualize (Aka – go for the really important stuff in life) while they are left behind.

These kinds of folks sometimes are really excited for you — they are genuinely interested. But when arguments get heated, they pull out the real firepower. Mostly they just talk behind your back about how spoiled and lucky you are for doing whatever it is you do.

Protecting Your Gem


If milk the pigeon really makes sense to you, I think that you are really searching for the real stuff of life.

maslow

You may or may not have the job, the stuff, the material goods, the friends… but still you want more, and that doesn’t necessarily mean stuff.

You want the real good shit from life – you want life.

You know you can always find another job.

You know your friends and family will be there for you and aren’t going anywhere soon.

You know that “home” will be in the exact same place tomorrow. You want an adventure.

People like you I put in the 1% on Maslow’s Hierarchy.

Maybe you don’t have the other levels set, but for whatever reason you are going for the highest level of self evolution.

Statistically, according to Maslow, Self-Actualizers make up less than 1% of the population.

That means 99% of people you encounter in your life won’t have a fucking clue what you’re talking about or what you’re getting at.

The majority of these people are worker bees – droning away, day after day, stuck in some illusion of life that society has produced for them.

The majority of these people are average people living average lives giving average advice.

This is all the long way of me saying: you need some thick skin and serious armor for this journey.

Defending your dream, your priceless gem, is one of the hardest things you will ever do. And if you don’t protect it, it will be stolen.

The Armor You Need To Defend Yourself

Guess what? The whole world is going doubt you. The entire world is used to living these boring ass, mediocre lives that I talk about every day.

It’s easier to  get fucked up 4 nights a week rather than staying sober, facing reality and making the change needed for long-term happiness.

You have to remind yourself on a daily basis that you are protecting your priceless jewel, you are protecting that nest egg, you are protecting the very essence of your life.  Your dream.

You’re going to need a couple pieces of armor for this adventure, like:

#1 Reminders –  You need to remind yourself (every single day) that this is worth it, more than anything else in the world.

Remember, you’re in the trenches, in the middle of an epic tale unfolding that will later inspire many others when the story is retold.

And remember one of the key themes in any epic? Hardship.  There must be something that the character wants, that needs to be overcome through some sort of struggle and adversity. This is how you re-write your story.

#2 Self control – There is going to be a massive, almost daily, urge to tell people to shut the fuck up and stop contributing their 2 cents.

… Unfortunately, as fun as it might be, it’s not the best way to keep friends and make your family happy.

Every time someone quietly insults me, tells me what I’m doing is impossible or otherwise puts me down – instead of getting angry, I get reminded.

I get reminded to close my mouth, sit down, and do the work.  

In fact, that’s the best reminder of all. Every time you talk to someone who doubts you, use that as a personal reminder to go sit down and get back to work. Do the un-glorious daily work that has to be done Every. Single. Day.

#3 The ability to sit down, shut up, and work. And work some more. And work some more. And have NOTHING to show people (And thereby tell them to shut up), for several (or many)  years.

Guess what? You won’t have a lot to show, sometimes for a long time.

Whether you want to start a business or just go off and do something unconventional, you’re going to have to get used to the fact that it takes time and patience.

You think the little kid that says “Some day I’m gonna be a pro baller” can prove it when he’s 13? No way.  Maybe not even at 18. His friends will tease him for a decade. But if he goes pro at 22 or 24, when he finally can say “Suck a fatty” to all his friends, it’s already been almost 10 years.

They probably forgot about it or don’t even care any more.  But all that time they had no idea they were merely feeding him with fuel. They were pushing him quietly forward.

Seven days a week he showed up, honed his craft, and worked.

Defending Your Priceless Jewel

Defending your dream is often like being a new entrepreneur.

New entrepreneurs have often quit their jobs in pursuit of the next level of evolution. More purpose, more money, more meaning, more fun, more freedom.

Unfortunately, their friends and family often have no clue what they are doing, and find every opportunity to tell them this on a daily basis.

The thing that sucks is that as a new entrepreneur, you don’t have anything to show. You can’t say see? Look what I’ve made. So there. Shut up.

And sometimes you won’t have that thing to show them for years. Maybe never in some cases.

And since you can’t prove it, sometimes it leads to this massive self doubt .

“Can I really do this? Are they right? Should I quit?”

On these days is when you need to suit up in your armor, and remind yourself: I was born to do this. There is no doubt in my mind that this is my path.

And then remind yourself how to survive the battle: Show up every day, put in the un-glorious work, and show up some more. All with your head held high and your mouth shut.

The battle is won every day when you show up. And there is no more worthwhile battle in life.

Every day should leave this one, priceless reminder:

Protect your dream like it’s the most precious thing in your entire existence – sometimes, it really is.

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Images: Diamond, petri dish, Armor, Horse in rain

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Tony Khuon @AgileLifestyle March 19, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Alex, I’m definitely with you on this post. I find the dismissive “sure, uh huh” attitude to be the most obnoxious — somewhere between a Sloth and a Raptor on your scale, since it’s not outright aggressive but has the same effect as a put-down. Just gotta keep your head up.

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Alexander Heyne March 19, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Hey Tony -

Yep I totally agree. The dismissive one is the worst. Keeping my head up is the tough part! Finding that core group of people to keep eachother motivated with similar values is often crucial. For this reason, a mastermind group has been just about the best business investment (ever) for me.

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Shayna @ Adventurous Soul March 19, 2013 at 10:01 pm

You forgot one – the “Really, genuinely cares about you and really, genuinely believes you are taking a risky & unwise path due to their lack of understanding about entrepreneurship.”

On one hand, these are often the most reasonable people to dialog with… yet on the other, they can make you second-guess yourself b/c they often voice some of your own doubts.

Incidentally, this is why I usually just don’t talk much about my biz except with people who I already know are supportive. To the others, I’m just like, “yup… things are going well… work is peachy.”

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Alexander Heyne March 19, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Hahaa Shayna such an optimist ;) That’s true though. Usually young people my age fall into that category. Cousins/friends who really want to be doing it but they’ve heard that “business is risky” or something.

I do the exact same thing as you. When people ask how it’s going I’m like “yep! It’s great, still growing…” and then proceed to talk about my next far-off vacation or something more interesting :D

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Sarah Li Cain March 20, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Love this post. I know when I decided to move overseas people were always asking me when I was going to come home. And I’d be like “I am home!” That promptly shut them up haha.

Oh, and people need to remember to work for what they want. Those people who what are dream but don’t want to work for it are not going to go very far.

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Alexander Heyne March 23, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Haha yeah I totally hear that. Living abroad is the best!

People seem to forget your advice a lot: that you actually need to WORK for what you want. A lot of people sit dreaming at their cubicles, but only a very small percentage take the time to make changes. agreed!

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Liz March 23, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Good post! I loved the part about the end, “The battle is won every day when you show up.”

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Worldly Canuck March 23, 2013 at 10:17 pm

“Raptors are usually friends or family”. Well, that was my early years to a “T”. My family (mainly the one who held all the power) not only took every opportunity to slam my aspirations, but openly forbid me from pursuing them. Only he knew what was best for his family, and that was that. Fear and loathing gave me the strength to walk away from my family at a young age. It was the best decision I ever made. If I hadn’t had the strength to walk away, I would be a shell of the person I am today – or worse.

Young people need to know that their family isn’t necessarily smarter than they are. They just happened to be born first. That often doesn’t count for too much.

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Erin March 24, 2013 at 11:46 am

I started reading this thinking, “Hmm, I don’t really feel like I have to defend my dream against anyone. I don’t think I have any dream parasites around me.” But the more I read, the more I realized how wrong I was. In don’t get full-out attacks on what I’m doing, but I absolutely get doubt, indifference, distrust. (Often in the form of “Maybe you could do that, but in this other less risky/more logical/more traditional way.”) And I also realized that, because I haven’t been seeing the situation for what it was, I basically haven’t been doing anything to counter the subtle negativity. I love the idea of butt-in-seat, do the work, prove them wrong. Thanks :)

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The_boss May 14, 2013 at 7:50 pm

Another article from a person who makes money on other people’s insecurities.

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Alexander Heyne May 14, 2013 at 11:47 pm

Hi The_Boss,

Sorry, I’m not quite sure what you mean. I actually don’t have anything for sale on my site, haha.

– Alex

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Tamara May 19, 2013 at 4:27 pm

I have been dealing with people like that all my life. I found that very seldom other people are genuinely happy, encouraging, or helpful when you want to achieve something.

I have had to dump a lot of people along they way and some just disappear by themselves.

If I had listened to all these negative people I’d be homeless under a bridge somewhere.

I think the funniest thing is when people I know think I am lying about everything. I had someone accuse me of lying about where I live and about drawing a picture I posted on my facebook. Just stupid crap like that.

Yes, it took years of hard work. Luck has nothing to do with it.

I have to admit there is one type of dreamer I do get annoyed with. I have this relative that every other day posts how this is a life changing week and she is on her way to great fame and fortune. The thing is she never does anything and nothing in the last 2 years has changed. You have to do more than post some positive messages on facebook and read a few feel good books to achieve anything. So yeah she kind of annoys me.

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Alexander Heyne May 26, 2013 at 11:05 am

Tamara,

Hahah yeah I unfortunately know dreamers like that – every thanksgiving it’s always that they’re “on the verge of a great breakthrough” and years later it never happens. Honestly they don’t bother me, I just feel bad for them. They’ve bought into some kind of illusion that loft thoughts are going to materialize all their dreams for them.

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