Have you ever come across the most brilliant idea and wondered why no one else had thought of it? Excitedly, you tell your friends and family all about it and how your life would change. Maybe you found a way to:
- Start a business that would make you rich.
- Pursue a lucrative career that would enable you to do what you love.
- Move abroad so that you can go on adventures.
Sounds nice, doesn’t it? You know that you have what it takes to succeed, but no one else thinks so. People around you just shake their heads, tell you all the reasons why something won’t work, or their eyes glaze over.
People don’t react the way you hoped they would. The problem is, no one believes you. What is wrong with everyone? They’re either fools that don’t know anything, or they seriously underestimate your abilities. Or both. But there could be another reason behind their skepticism.
We All Like to Believe That We’re the Exception
Whenever you read a book or watch a movie, you notice that the story focuses on the person who is the exception. The typical plotline goes like this: The protagonist lives a mundane life. S/he is the same as everyone else. Everything is boring, until something happens.
An event, a thought, or a change in circumstance causes the protagonist to do something unusual. A timid clownfish’s son goes missing, so he goes on a journey to find Nemo. Jack wins a ticket to board the Titanic, where he meets Rose (and the impending disaster). Frodo Baggins is called upon by Gandalf to embark on a quest, so he leaves the Shire to destroy the One Ring.
The trigger is pulled. The protagonist is then forced to embark on a quest, whether it means going from rags to riches, undergoing extraordinary change, or fighting the status quo. The point is, the story revolves around that one person who is pushed into unusual circumstances.
In our lives, we all believe that we are that person. Who wants to think of themselves as a supporting or (gasp) background character? Everyone thinks they’re the exception, not the rule. Who can blame us for thinking this is the case? After all, we’re the protagonists of our own lives. We’re raised to believe that we can rise above any obstacles and be successful. Parents, teachers, and the media instill this belief that we can conquer anything if we just try.
But when we come up with an actual idea we want to pursue, the negative attitude appears. Others try to talk us out of it and give all sorts of reasons about why it won’t work. They might cite someone who tried something similar, and look at how that turned out. Sure, that person we know might not have done so well, but it won’t happen to us. What happened to that person won’t happen to us because we’re somehow different. We’re unique. But are we? What about us sets us apart?
Let’s flip the viewpoints over for a second and assume that you’re a friend or family member hearing someone else’s wild idea.
How a Poor Teenager Went On to Create an Empire
Imagine that you know a woman who’s had a very rough childhood. She was born in poverty to a teenage single mom and raised in an inner city neighborhood. She became pregnant as a teen herself, but had a miscarriage.
Afterward, she worked at a job where she started covering the local news. Unfortunately, her boss didn’t think she fit the profile of a TV announcer and gave her a demotion. Even though it was disheartening, people could understand why he did it. She didn’t seem like someone who belonged on TV.