I coined an axiom recently. Not many people get to coin axioms, so I’m pretty happy about it. Coining an axiom isn’t as glamorous as coining a phrase, but it does tend to get more long-term sociological respect.
I call my axiom “Johnny’s Rule,” and it’s this: If you’re the first person in your group to try a given thing, you’re going to look like a total idiot.
As axioms go, it’s not terribly sexy… but it’s dead on.
If you follow Laura, you’re trying to get your own thing going. You’re trying to start a side business, a replacement business, or to build your own social media empire. Maybe you even bought a product. Maybe you took one of Laura’s courses. Maybe you’ve had a bit of success. Maybe you’re even getting kind of excited.
And if you’re like most entrepreneurs, you’ve told someone about it and they’ve totally patronized you. Or they’ve suggested you not get your hopes up, and definitely that you shouldn’t quit your day job. Maybe you even made the mistake of saying you wanted to make money online — with “make money online” being the three dirtiest words you could say to most people — and had someone tell you that you were a sucker, that it’s all a big scam.
Well, remember Johnny’s Rule: If you’re the first person in your group to quit a job, you’re going to look like a total idiot to the people around you.
For that matter, if you’re the first person in your group to run off to New York to be an actor, to start a pet-sitting company, to homeschool your kids, or to attempt to build a new piece of software, people are going to think you’re a complete dope.
So you’re probably thinking: This really is one great, inspirational blog post, Johnny.
But look… remember what a “rule” is. Remember what an axiom is. It’s something that is always true. Always. Meaning that no matter what, if you’re the first, people are always going to think you’re stupid — regardless of the idea’s actual merit.
If your idea is terrible, you’re going to look like an idiot, yes.
But the same goes if your idea is the best idea ever. If what you’re doing will be of revolutionary benefit to you, or change the world, or save lives, or reinvent an industry, you’re going to look like a total idiot to the people in your group if you’re the first one to try it.
Bill Gates, trying to sell an intuitive operating system for an incomprehensible computer without having any great programming know-how? Idiot.
Steve Jobs, challenging the world Gates built? Taking on the PC world? Moron.
Thomas Edison, continuing to experiment with lightbulb filaments after failing nearly ten thousand times? What a total dumbass.
And the Wright Brothers, attempting flight? They were clearly out of their minds — and they knew it, because even after they had successfully flown, people kept telling them that building a flying machine wasn’t possible.
Look, I’ve got news for you: You’re not normal. You have weird ideas. You have a messed-up perception of what you’re “supposed to” do in this world, and how you’re “supposed to” live, and what it’s possible for a person to do. If you weren’t weird, you’d obey the rules. You’d stop doing such stupid things, and having such idiotic ideas.
But so-called “smart” ideas don’t change the world. They perpetuate the status quo. They reinforce the rules that they were born within. If you’re in a situation you don’t like, doing absolutely everything in the sanest, smartest way possible is a great way to guarantee that you stay there.
If people think you’re strange, they’re right. If people think you’re a little out of your mind, they’re right.
It takes unconventional decisions to create change in your life or in others’ lives. Stepping outside of boundaries and comfort zones is the only way to see anything different, and to create new results.
If you keep doing this entrepreneur thing, people are going to think you’re stupid, crazy, reckless, foolhardy, and naive.
And that’s cool. Because the willingness to be all of those things is what it’s going to take if you’re to ever succeed.