7 Lessons I Learned Ignoring Everybody

And why No One Cares


At the age of 14 they told me that writing fiction wasn’t going to help me with my grades and boost my intelligence. I ignored them and soon got a literary award from leading state University for a short story I wrote.
At the age of 16 they told me that no one could be accepted into the University of my choice with grades I had. I ignored them, scored the highest grade for the most difficult entrance examination, and got enrolled.
At the age of 18 they told me that with my specialisation I could get only a cheap unpaid internship to start from. I ignored them and got my first work experience at top consulting firm.
At the age of 21 after I got my University degree they told me that to get enrolled for a Ph.D. program I should work on a boring topic chosen by my professor. I ignored them and got accepted for Ph.D. studies researching old Irish sagas I was really interested in.
At the age of 22 they told me that people almost never win at poker. I ignored them and for a year professionally played tournament poker, being able to pay my bills and invest in my future.
At the age of 25 they told me that buying a motorcycle could never be a wise decision. I ignored them and had a greatest time in my life riding Harley-Davidson.

When Tobias van Schneider recommended a book called “Ignore Everybody” I was once again in the middle of that very process of ignoring others.

The book was a great read. There were things I already experienced, things I already knew, things that surprised me and things that made me think about my future.

I guess you also know that it is not an easy job — ignore others and do what you think you have to do. The cost of mistake is not higher, but bitter. People may not succeed even when others encourage them to try. But it is much more painful to fail when everyone is pretty sure it was a foolish thing for you to do in the first place.

After I finished reading the book I decided to make a list of the best lessons I learned from it. They could be useful for anyone trying to get into our club.

After you read them I will tell you the most surprising thing you can learn only when you start ignoring everyone.

1. Good Ideas have lonely childhoods.

Not all bad ideas are supported by your relatives and friends. But all good ideas are never supported by people who mean something to you.

“The more compelling the path, the more lonely it is.”
~ Hugh MacLeod

It is not because the fate is unjust. When you have a good idea you work hard to make it real and when you make it — its power changes you. You become a different person. You were a hired specialist and now you are an entrepreneur. You were poor and now you are rich. You had so much free time and now you are always on the run.

Your friends and relatives love you as you are right now, and they are afraid that your good idea can change you. Maybe for the better. Maybe for the different.

You made a decision without asking them, and now they are afraid.

Thus you are left alone. No one will support you with your good idea. Maybe it is not normal, but at least it is standard.

2. Standing out from the crowd is meaningless. Avoid crowds.

This sounds very counter-intuitive. Temptation is strong to follow someone’s else’s path, well-known and less dangerous one. The truth is, millions are already following it.

We tend to think that inventing something new or making things different way and hoping to succeed is hoping for a miracle. This is wrong. Making things different is what gives you the best chances to make it.

Trying to do the same thing as thousands of other people, somehow considering that you can be better than all of them — this is waiting for a miracle. Miracles doesn’t happen.

“Is your plan unique? Is there nobody else doing it? Then I’d be excited. A little scared, maybe, but excited.”
~ Hugh MacLeod

3. Accept the Pain.

Making something that others do not approve, making it alone, is not much fun. Even more, there are sacrifices you should make in order to pursue what you think is right. It will be painful.

No cure from that pain. I was frowned upon, I was struggling with no time left to hang out with my friends, I was doing things that only I could do, expecting no help at all.

When you decide to do the same thing, you just be ready for the pain and accept it. Ignoring everybody “mode: on” comes with a price.

4. The World is Changing.

The World probably will not need people who drive taxis in future. Or people who translate books. Or people who manage other people.

Should you think about it while considering your next career move? Well, it doesn’t matter what expertise you have now.

If you are apt, nice and people trust you — you will make it no matter what kind of jobs will be occupied by robots.

5. Always climb up, plateaus are killing people.

Plateaus are comfortable: you can rest, breath deeply and look around for a great view. You are still paid. Your boss may even say that you stand solid, do your job and this is what matters in the end.

See what really happens though: people climb mountains to reach the peak, not to hang out on plateaus. And if they stay there for too long, they become too weak to climb higher. Eventually, they get paid less, they spend all their time helping others to climb their mountains, and when they retire they regret betraying their initial dream so easily.

Someone may say plateaus are easy life, I say they slowly kill those who stay.

Oh, and they are boring.

6. The best way to get something is to never need it.

Ever noticed that when you need something, you can never find it, but as soon as you don’t… Seems like this rule will work for everything in life.

The problem is not only in world’s injustice, but also in people. No one likes those who need help. They are frowned upon (“Help yourself!”), considered to be immature and trouble-making.

  • Say “I need this job” and you are at disadvantage.
  • Say “Give me a chance” and you are at disadvantage.
  • Say “Please forgive me” and you have a huge problem.

Only when you don’t need something, you can get it without much effort. Very unfair, yes.

7. Nobody Cares.

The final thing that you should always bear in mind. Helps to have right expectations.

“Everybody is too busy with their own lives to give a damn about your book, painting, screenplay, etc., especially if you haven’t finished it yet. And the ones who aren’t too busy you don’t want in your life anyway.”
~Hugh MacLeod

In the end I wish I could be trendy and say that when you ignore everybody and do what you really want to do than you will be successful.

Wouldn’t it be great?

At the age of 14 I wanted to start making video games.
At the age of 16 I wanted to write a bestselling novel and study in the University only to become a better writer.
At the age of 18 I wanted to train more to be able to bench press 140 kg and earn my powerlifting category.
At the age of 21 I wanted to play Warcraft III professionally.
At the age of 22 I wanted to learn iOS programming and suck less at math.
At the age of 25 I wanted to live in London and buy myself a nice English bicycle. Still want it, by the way.

But life is a bit more complicated than success stories tell us.

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