The sad truth is that the people who are supposed to support you the most often don’t believe in your crazy dreams.
Your eyes are filled with wonder, your mind with potential, your heart full of daring. You approach your loved ones and tell them what you want to do.
This isn’t always the standard response, but their response could go a little something like this:
Parents: they hear your idea and are still for a moment. They sneak a glance at one another and try to communicate between their looks. They’re saying to each other:
“What do we say? Quick!
“I don’t know — you talk first.”
Then, as gently as they can, they start their spiel.
“OK dear/son/honey, that’s great! It sounds like an amazing idea.” They try to muster up the enthusiasm, but the statement falls flat.
Friends: you get an opportunity to talk about what you have been up to. Depending on how close they are to you, they’ll tell you outright, “what are you on?”.
If they’re not as close, they might just stare at you and try to figure out what to say to you. Like your parents, they might feign interest. They may be skeptical and say, “riiight. And how exactly are you going to do that?”
This response actually isn’t that bad. They’re challenging you and forces you to come up with legitimate reasons and responses to their questions.
Spouse: they are your life partner. They love you for who you are and should learn to understand you as you grow and change… right?
It depends on their risk appetite. If you’re anything like my wife and I, one of us prefers stability and predictability. The other thrives in the unknown and acknowledges that stability and predictability are a facade that society creates.
Mentioning your dream can be awkward. Like your parents, they might try to be supportive of you. In the back of their mind, they know that as long as you persevere, you’re in it for the long haul.
No matter who it is, they have their reasons for not supporting you — at least not at the beginning.
- maybe you’ve got a history of starting things and not going the distance, or starting and giving up as soon as the fire fizzles out,
- perhaps they think you’re being naive and don’t want to see you get hurt or waste your time,
- they believe that the best thing for you to do is settle and do what everyone else is doing. Wake up, force down breakfast, commute, 9–5 commute, force down dinner, sleep x 40 years.
Here are the key truths for you to understand if you are to succeed without the support of your loved ones:
#1 — you don’t need their approval to succeed
From an early age, our identity is molded by the need of approval and acknowledgement from others. First, it starts with our parents, then our friends at school, before moving out into the “real” world.
Do you notice that the older we get, we seem to require more and more approval? This endlessly expanding web of insecurity binds us to the opinions of others, strangling our clarity of thought.
Ask yourself this:
What makes their approval more important than your own?
Sometimes the authority is self-appointed. Sometimes, it’s bequeathed by someone else. We are only accountable to ourselves. The moment you decide to strike out and do something that’s unique, you divorce yourself from the need for approval.
If you’re doing something for that approval, stop. You’re doing it for the wrong reasons.
#2 — you are different to them, but in a good way
Have you ever felt that the world you perceive is separate from the world that you live in? Like the world everyone you care about is a bubble and you’re right on the edge of it?
Or have you felt a greater sense of self beyond being caught up in hype and trends? Do you watch Game of Thrones? Do you play Candy Crush? Do you subject yourself to banal talk at the water cooler and pretend to like people?
It’s OK if you do — but the question is, are you aware that you’re doing it? Or do you do these things because you have given up and self medicate to detach yourself from reality?
The world around us is beautiful and if you want to do something crazy, you see this beauty. The beauty lies in animals, in friendly gestures, in humanity that’s still human. It lies in arts where dancers, painters, coders and entrepreneurs that turn lead into gold every day.
If you see this beauty, you’re different. Embrace this. It might be hard to, especially if you like the comfort of the herd. But once you see this beauty, the seed has been planted.
You cannot go back.
#3 — you are responsible for them
You have acknowledged that you’re different. You have realized that you don’t need other people’s approval to proceed and succeed. The last step is realizing that you are responsible for them all.
They see you as being a bit crazy. You should feel sorry that they can’t see the world that you see. But don’t look down on them — it’s not their fault that they’re like this. Some people are just blessed with the gift of vision. Maybe something happened to you along the way that made you like this.
If your heart is in the right place, whatever you want to do will help many people. It will help your parents, your friends and your husband or wife. It will impact people on an emotional level and scratch an itch that they have had for years.
It might even help millions of people. Other non-believers like the ones you care about. All self-medicating and waiting for someone to come along and sweep them off their feet.
That person is you.
You’re responsible for everyone. Everyone will say you can’t do it. You have to look beyond this, look beyond their words and stare right into the sun on the horizon. It’s blazing and hurts to look at. But as your vision firms and you look through the mirage, you start emitting your own light. One that rivals the sun.
As you move closer to it, it’s not as big and powerful as it was when you were young. You have moved past your parents, friends and partner. They’re behind you, part of the crowd. They’ve seen with their very own eyes what you can do. They now support you.
You smile, not because of this change of heart, but because you feel the same way about yourself. You never let the faith in yourself waver. This has changed the behaviors of all the non-believers. Changing someone’s thinking and behavior is one of the hardest things to do —
and you have just done it.
Once upon a time, there was a boy. In school, he was bullied — a lot. He was beaten and up came home bruised often. His parents broke up too, to compound the pain.
He was brilliant. He received his first computer at 9 years old and three years later, made $500 by selling a game he had coded himself.
17 years old: he had just graduated from high school and — without the support of his parents — decided to pursue the American Dream. From his home in Pretoria, South Africa he departed for USA. It would be three years before he would be allowed to set foot on her shores.
In the University of Pennsylvania, he realized that humanity had to expand the limits of its consciousness to ask the right questions. He also realized that wanted to be involved in things that would change the world.
Over the next 20 years, he held himself to this goal. He created PayPal and Tesla Motors. He recently landed rockets on platforms out in the middle of the ocean — something that had never been done before. He wants to save humanity by creating the first colonies on Mars.
You might know of this man as Elon Musk.
You might not believe it yet, but we are all Elon Musk. We have too much to live for, too many people to be responsible for and too many problems to solve.
That’s why if more of us realize that we are him, our parents, friends and spouses not believing in us will be the least of our concerns on the path to greatness.