- Michael Thompson
Everything worth doing comes with opinions.
Imagine you’re lying in a hospital bed. It’s late. You’re 93 years old. The nurse turns out the light and says goodnight. You close your eyes and begin to think about your life, and in an instant, your pitch-black room comes alive with color.
You see yourself playing football with your buddies in the backyard of your childhood home. You see yourself graduating from college wide-eyed and full of Schlitz. A tear runs down your wrinkly cheek as you think about the first time you laid eyes on the love of your life. The thought of holding your grandkids seriously intensifies these emotions.
Then, all of a sudden, you’re hit with a realization so powerful it makes you sit straight up in bed and scream —
“I didn’t chase my dream because Bruce from Accounting thought it was a dumb idea!”
Ignore the Noise
If you’re like me, you’ve met a ton of Bruces in your life— the kind of people who scoff at the dreams of others because they’re too scared to chase their own.
When I took a sales job straight out of college, more people than I care to count let me know I was making a mistake: “Did you forget you stutter? You’re gonna get laughed out of the building!”
When I thinking about moving to Barcelona after being financially wiped out in Central America, these people showed up again: “You’re gonna fail just like you did in Costa Rica. You’ll be sleeping in your parent’s basement in a month!”
When I began writing online, I ran into the Bruces of the world again and again: “This is a joke, right? You’re making a fool of yourself with all these embarrassing stories!”
I wish I could tell you these people were wrong.
But they weren’t.
During my first sales job, I got hung up on countless times a day and some of the people on my team told me I didn’t have the chops for the job. After my first calendar year, however, I’d broken into the top 10 of a triple-digit salesforce and was being groomed for management. Shortly thereafter, I discovered I had a real passion for teaching.
When I first moved to Spain, I ran into red lights everywhere just like some people had warned. I didn’t have legal working papers and what little cash I had was quickly running out. After months of knocking on doors, however, someone finally invited me in. Then I got another chance. And then a third. 6 months later, I walked through a door to give a seminar, and waiting inside was the woman with who I’ll spend the rest of my life.
When I first started writing online four years ago, I received some seriously cruel messages — some of which came from “friends.” Today, however, after making the decision that my dreams held more weight than their words, every day I get to wake up and choose what I want to do.
Follow Your Own Signal
Everyone has their opinion on how to lead a fulfilling life. For me, the answer is simple: if you want to do something but the Bruces of the world are telling you it’s a dumb idea and you’re going to make a fool of yourself — ignore what they say and do it anyway.
Sure, you may get laughed at. People may even call you names and try to tear you down. But please don’t allow people who do so little for you control so much of you. Keeping you small is the only way for some people to feel big.
If I’ve learned anything in the 15,503 days I’ve been fortunate to be alive, it’s that nothing worth having comes cheap and it certainly doesn’t come without opinions.
You gotta treat your curiosity as your primary responsibility.
You gotta give yourself permission to create your own green lights.
You gotta tune out the noise and trust your own internal signal even if you don’t know where it will take you.
Remember this as we head into a new year. Remind yourself that the hits you take on the playing field hurt a lot less than the pain of regret. Remind yourself that a life worth living comes with scars.
If you don’t, you’re not only sabotaging your own happiness, you’re also robbing the world of your voice and talents.
The last thing you want to realize when you’re old and grey is that you failed to live life your own way because you prioritized what other people say.