Letting Others Belittle Your Ambitions

Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

This is a quote I found today by Mark Twain and it is so true.

When I started working for myself, I had more naysayers around me than cheerleaders. People had no problem telling me I had officially lost it as I quit my corporate job and decided to trek out on my own. I didn’t know a lot of people who had their own business so I sought to find them online. I read through their blogs and spent time following other entrepreneurs through forum postings. I learned a lot simply by reading about what they were doing and implementing some of their most successful approaches that they graciously shared.


Even as my business took off, those naysayers remained. Apparently, if I didn’t have a job where I put on a business suit and worked on the 20th floor, I didn’t have a career at all. After all, according to them, it is impossible to make money unless you work for “the man”.

When I started my MBA program, I was asked repeatedly why I was there if I didn’t intend to get a “real” job after I graduated. At first, it irritated me but I eventually learned to ignore it all. I sought out others who wanted to be entrepreneurs and spent my time with them. My entrepreneurship professor was a great resource and one of the few who actually “got it” when I talked about working for myself.

I attended many entrepreneurial events and was always so inspired when I was in the presence of these people. I always had a notebook with me and it seemed to be the time that I was able to brainstorm the most ideas. Simply being in the same room with people who were successfully self employed was enough to motivate me to keep going.

Finally, I realized that these other people (who by the way, even now, seven years later, still ask me what I do all day) just are wired different than I am. Just because it won’t work for them doesn’t mean it is not working for me. And even though I am sometimes tempted to plaster my bank statement to my forehead when I’m around them, I have learned that it would be useless. They just simply don’t get it. To them, you either work for the man for thirty years until you get your gold watch or you’re not successful.

To me, that seems like an absolutely dreadful way to live. I have put these people on ignore and learned to do a lot of smiling and head nodding around the ones that I have no choice about being around (such as family).

I seek out those who are like me. Those who think it can be done. Those who have done it and who are more than willing to help anyone else do the same. I encourage you to do the same. Being around like minded people has tremendously improved my outlook on the future of my business as well as my motivation to keep plugging along.

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