Ignore Everybody

January 26th, 2010

Aloof. That’s a nice way to put it. I guess that’s what people have said about me for most of my life. “In his own world”.That’s what they said when I was a kid. Stubborn. Hard-headed.

Those labels have been attached to me for my exceptional ability to tune out the people around me.

Does this mean I completely ignore people? Not at all. I certainly pay attention and I work hard to cultivate my awareness of others and their feelings. But when I say I ignore people, I simply do not let what they say or do bother me so much. Living in a foreign country where from time to time people want to cause you trouble because of what you look like, being able to tune those people out is a great skill to have.

And it is important to use this “selective ignorance” to further your personal growth.

But the question is why…why should you tune them out. I’ll give you 3 reasons. But before I go into them. Let me say this: unlike some people, I am not going to tell you to ignore people because they are “negative thinkers”. Yes, some people are negative and should be tuned out (that goes without saying). However, we don’t want to get in the habit of surrounding ourselves with “yes people” masquerading as “like-minded people”.

So, let’s look at 3 reasons why we should ignore everybody.

#1 Most people are not qualified to give you good advice

This is a classic problem—empowering the wrong people to control your destiny. I have a friend. To protect his good name, I shall call him “Mason Justice”. Mason is a musician. Whenever he writes a new song, he asks the people around him what they think.

Who does he ask?

His brother (a delivery man for a soda company)

His co-worker (a techie guy)

Other people he hangs out with at a bar (a mixed bunch)

Are any of thee people musicians? Nope. Furthermore, one of them doesn’t even like the kind of music Mason makes. So, Mason is empowering these people who don’t even like the type of music he writes to judge his music’s worthiness.

Guess what advice they give him?

Anotehr example is a former client of mine.  When he had a problem, he asked everyone what they thought.  The problem is most of those people had NO expertise in his area of business.

The result is that he often felt confused, dismayed, and unfocused.

Ignoring those people instead of going to them for advice would have cleared his head right up.

#2 The people around you may not share the same values

Let’s stick with Mason a bit more. After asking people who really aren’t qualified to judge his music, he then asks his musician-friend and bandmate “Duff”. The problem is that Duff is a perfectionist whereas Mason thinks that music that sounds “good enough” is ready to go. Mason also thinks that music can be rough in the beginning and can be smoothed out during rehearsals and performances. Duff thinks it should be perfect before they perform it.

So, whenever Mason and Duff work on music together, Mason ends up writing the music and Duff rejects 99% of it, insisting it has to be redone. In fact, Duff pushed back their recording for almost a year and the project is now shelved indefinitely.

Mason and Duff, although both musicians, share different values. And in Mason’s case, he empowered Duff to sink the entire project. If he had ignored Duff and found someone who shared similar musical values, it may have gotten a head of steam.

#3 Many people closest to you don’t want to hurt your feelings

This is a big one. If you ask me, it’s the biggest one. 99% of my personal growth is due to people who criticized me (constructively, I might add). If I did not have people around me who pointed out where I was going wrong, I could not have grown. It is vital that we surround ourselves with people that love us and respect us. Without that support, it is difficult to live life. What is a life without love anyway?

But does that mean we should be asking them for advice?

This is not a question of them being qualified but in their inability to hurt the feelings of someone they love. Think of when little Jimmie brings home a drawing with ink blotches and mud stains all over the place. Then, Jimmy asks his mother what she thinks of the picture he drew of her:

“Oh, it’s beautiful Jimmy. Let’s put it on the fridge”

Little Jimmy smiles. Mommy is proud.

Now, imagine Jimmy is 25 and wants to be an artist. What do you think Mommy would say about ANY of his paintings?

“That’s really pretty, Jimmy.”

Mom just doesn’t want to hurt his feelings. Who knows? Maybe he’s a great abstract artist. Mom is not qualified. But her answer stems from her desire not to hurt his feelings. It’s possible that even if she were qualified, she might not be completely honest with Jimmy.

Friends and loved-ones typically don’t want to hurt your feelings. Mason’s wife thinks his music is just “dreamy”. That is wonderful for support, but he should leave it at that.

The One You Should be Listening to

There’s one person you should be listening to, and that’s you.  When you hear something and it doesn’t sound right, there’s a reason for it.  Listen to that voice inside you.  Tune into your inner poop detector.  You are equipped.

And don’t do it because Carlon Haas of Don’t Step in the Poop told you.  Do it because you know it’s the right thing to do.

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