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Monday, April 23, 2012

Ignoring the Noise

“It's too late for Douglas,”  My first grade teacher said. I will never forget her words as she spoke to my mother. I remember crying all the way home. Ok, I was not the best kid in my class. But how could a first grader do anything that would cause a teacher to say it was “too late”?  Here I sit, 38 years later pondering her words. She was completely wrong. My life has been filled with more success than failure. I learned to perform very well in school.  But I suffered those words. They stuck like a red badge to my chest. Her condemnation affected me.

Why do we do that? Why do we ever let what anyone says change who we are? Is that simply a human trait? I told you in a few other posts that I found true pleasure in ridding television from my life. I learned I did not need TV to tell me what to do, to influence me. When I say I ‘Ignore the noise,’ I mean a lot more than just ignoring Madison Avenue. I have come to realize that the things I most want are often the things most likely to be put down by those around me.

I have ideas for businesses and inventions all the time. I am sure you do as well. Very foolishly, I share those ideas with anyone who will listen. So often, I get no encouragement. My friends thought I was joking when I said I was going to sell coffee.  They told me I would lose all my money. They said I shouldn't even bother. What did they know? People who have no real experience with what you are proposing are often the quickest to shoot it down. The other day, I was telling a friend of mine about an idea for a website. I told her my concept for a self-help website based on this blog. She immediately laughed at my idea. Being a fan of self-deprecation, I laughed too. We both laughed at my idea. She told me that no one would be interested in a self help website to help people find their true calling. It's hard not to hear criticism.  But now that I think about it, how would she know? She is a real estate agent and a friend, but she has never been involved with a web business. Neither has she any experience in writing or the self-help genre. Yet here I was asking for her approval and insight. I was asking her to pick me. Why? I should have not let it bother me. I really must learn not to ask anyone for permission to do anything. I must simply learn to pick myself!

A lot of people just don’t want you to succeed. Maybe it’s that they don’t want you to succeed them. They are afraid that you will pass them by. It may be subconscious. Possibly they don’t even realize it.  Other times, it’s that they don’t see you as potentially successful. They view you as simply that funny guy with kids they hang out with. So often, the people we are closest too are the most negative. Maybe they are concerned that the effort of trying will be too much, and will wreck out lives. Too often, it's that they really don’t want you to leave them behind. We are voyeuristic by nature. We pass an open window and we look! When family and friends are close to you, they see what your life is made of. They measure your success and failure against their own. If they see you trying something new, there is always that chance you will succeed and make their own lives look bad. It's even possible they are afraid we are going to next ask them for money. I am never sure! But invariably those around me are negative about any idea I bring to them. So I stopped trying!

I read that the best way to become a writer was to self publish. What? I always thought the best way to become a writer was to submit manuscript after manuscript to publishers all over the country until one of them decides your writing is worthy of their printing. Now I realize that model is dead. Today, anyone can self publish a novel on Amazon Kindle for absolutely no cost.  Some people have been wildly successful at this. I read about a young lady last week who was penniless, wrote vampire novels in the evening, and self published 8 books in two years. Her name is Amanda Hocking. She made 2.5 million dollars in the first year of self publishing and just signed a 4 book deal worth millions. She didn’t wait for the publishing industry to pick her. She picked herself. How many things in life are the same? Are we always waiting to be picked or are we picking ourselves? Do we allow other people’s negative opinions to stop us, or do we ignore them?

I think we must pick ourselves and ignore the naysayers. The best ideas I have are met with the greatest negativity. I almost think I should judge all my new projects on how many people think they stink. The more bad comments I get the better the idea. The inverse is also true. Everyone around me nodded their head and told me what a great idea starting a home care agency was. Perhaps I should have taken it for a bad omen. Kind of like when you bring your new girlfriend home and your mom loves her. Warning!

Ignoring the noise means to ignore everything but your own ideas. You never will find something unique by listening to everyone else. That goes as much for television as it does for your friends and siblings. If they are negative, there might be a host of reasons beyond their own opinion of your idea. Their negative comments might just be a sign that they think your idea really does have a chance of succeeding. I have no way to know, and I have stopped seeking their advice. These days, I come up with an idea and launch it before I show it to anyone. That way, nothing stops me before I get started.


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