First They Laugh At You, Then They Tell Everyone They Know You


first they laugh, then they tell everyone they know you

A number of years ago when I was in the process of changing direction, someone told me I was an idiot.

It wasn’t the type of support I was looking for, but it certainly made me make up my mind. Perhaps that’s the Taurus in me.

I made the change and it changed my life for the better. It’s why I am doing what I do now. And why I should have been doing this all along.

However, life takes time. And I would not be as satisfied now if I hadn’t taken that precise amount of time to come to the conclusions I eventually came to.

Eureka moments happen. I class them as moments when a number of things collide in our lives. These ‘things’ are exactly what we need. They are the catalyst that sets us on a new path.

For me, it was the end of my previous company. Something I’d set up from scratch on my own and worked in for 13 years. And something that I’d slowly grown out of.

But the real Eureka moment happened when I understood where the resistance to our change comes from.

And it’s always the same. It’s from those we love. Read that again.

The rest of our friends don’t matter. These are the friends we don’t truly love. They are just in our lives at the moment for one reason or another. They say stuff and maybe we react and maybe we don’t.

They often include many family members. You will know them well, because you rarely see them.

But the ones we love… they are different. And there are two sides to them.

There’s the side that loves us back. They are our friends because they deeply care for us. They became our friends because of what we are.

What we are is all they know. It’s why we became attractive to them. So when we decide to change, we threaten the relationship (a lot).

Humans are selfish. It doesn’t matter how much we try to cover this up with displays of altruism (or philanthropy). We want (or give) things because we believe they will do us good.

Let me ask a question. When was the last time you gave 100% unconditional anything? Dogs do this all the time. But us? Not so often (not when you really dig into your motives).

The other side of our true friends is the status quo. The certainty of life. The non-changing concept of life taught to us from an early age. In school, they called them ‘facts’.

The highest mountain. The longest river. 24 hours in a day. 9 to 5. Weekends. Holidays. Marriage. Job. Retirement. Pension. Death.

We want things to remain as they are. It’s human.

But we differ from all other animals because we can imagine the future. So we have this paradox. We want certainty, but we desire change. Certainty is for the now. Desire is for the future.

Bringing the future right back to now, by invoking change is a big step.

And the problem for all your friends (especially spouses and partners) is that they are not part of the change you want. They didn’t make the choice (it was not theirs to make).

You’re offering little or no compromise (and why should you).

The resistance that comes will test your nerve. And that will either strengthen your reserve, or force you to quit. It’s your choice.

The only way I know to counter this and to fully live your life the way you desire is to use compassion.

Understand the fear and doubt you will invoke to those who matter to you. And then explain compassionately why you are doing it.

This is the test of true friendship.

Whatever the outcome, one thing is certain. If they laugh at you at first, be compassionate about it. Later they will tell everyone they know you. They will talk about your achievements (and if they don’t, well, you made the right decision).

Pushing to be number 1 in what you do is the best thing you can do. It can be lonely, but so can doing nothing. As you rise, you will meet new people. People who understand that freedom means having choices and being able to take them. Take it while you can.

About the author 

Quentin Pain

Quentin Pain started his first business, a courier company aged 23. He sold it 4 years later and used the profits to start a recording studio. A couple of albums later, he started two software companies, the last one being Accountz, which he grew from zero to 36,000 customers and retired from in January 2013. He is a director of ProofMEDIA, a specialist digital consulting business. He's also a published author (including a Dummies title), and has won many awards including the IAB Small Business Mentor of the Year. Copywriting is his speciality and he runs 3 groups on Facebook under the Science of Copywriting brand, which combined has well over 180,000 members. Quentin is also Founder of the International Copywriters Association and former SEO Lead for Circle Health Group, the UK's largest private hospital group.

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