Defiance builds millionaires.
I don’t know who said you couldn’t for the first time in your life. It might have been your parents, or a teacher, or a well meaning family friend.
But somewhere in your origin story, someone told you that you were wrong, you were too small, you couldn’t, you can’t, you won’t. Someone told you that you had limitations that you could not overcome.
Someone told you that there were things that weren’t outside of your mind or your heart or your soul, but were outside of your abilities.
Someone told you that you weren’t meant to be a dancer. Or an artist.
A musician. A businessperson. A lawyer. A doctor. A plumber. A teacher.
A mom. A dad.
A programmer, or a games developer, or a circus performer or a firefighter or a cop or an activist.
Someone told you that because they looked at you and they didn’t really see you.
They saw a mirror, and in that mirror they saw who they wanted to be and who they became, who they thought they were and who they turned out to be.
They saw their own beliefs and preconceptions and ideas about what life is and what’s possible.
Maybe they wanted to protect you from the way their hearts broke when life didn’t go their way. Maybe it was their love for you that made them do it.
Or maybe they just thought little girls should be ballerinas and little boys should be CEO’s.
For whatever reason…they tried to make you into them.
They tried to force you into their form, and their shape and their mold, and when you didn’t want to be that or do that, they pushed and pushed.
They spent years pushing, and so did everyone else. All the people who told you not to follow your dreams, to play it safe, to never start your own business, to not work for a startup, to not be a cartoonist.
And when you push back? They say you’re going to fail. And you’re going to be a loser.
I can remember reading those words. 10 years ago. A Facebook status, from some asshole who I used to be friends with. A guy who’d let me down, and now wanted nothing more than to hurt me.
Hurt me by calling me a failure.
Hurt me by saying I’d never be anything.
Hurt me by saying my life had no meaning.
Since then, I’ve had my ups and downs. I’ve won and lost, but today I’m a blogger with credits in Business Insider, TIME and more. I consult for and coach companies across the world.
I wake up every day feeling thankful and grateful for being alive. I get emails from people who tell me that I’ve impacted their lives in a meaningful way.
People do this shit all the time. They try and drag you down, call you pathetic, predict your absolute destruction, belittle you, laugh at you, mock you. And it’s awesome.
It’s awesome because you can use that to fuel what you do. You can use it to fuel and drive your ambition, make you work harder, make you try harder, make you run when your body aches, and work when your eyes are closing.
There is no greater motivating power than the burning need to prove those assholes wrong, those assholes who want to see you crash.
You will never reach a point in your life where people will stop telling you No, and stop telling you about the failure you’re going to crash headlong into. Fuck them. It doesn’t matter.
You will never reach a point in your life where you have to believe them. You don’t have to take it as gospel, just because someone’s said “stop kidding yourself” or “I’m just trying to be realistic.” You can still prove them wrong.
When people give you limitations, they’re not unbreakable rules handed down from on high that you have to set up around yourself to stop you living out loud.
When people give you limitations, it’s because they want you to have their limits.
But they don’t get to be the ones who decide what does and doesn’t limit you. Some things will, sure. That’s life. Those things can’t be given to you by someone else.
When you take the No, and you take the limitation, and you let it burn as fuel, you’re unstoppable.
And for all I know, you could change the world. For all I know, whoever is reading this right now could be a student who goes on to medical school and one day saves my life.
For all I know, you could be the programmer who designs the operating system I use in 20 years’ time.
You could design the shoes I wear, the glasses I buy, the car I drive.
You could write a book that will one day change my life. Or perform a dance that makes me break down and fucking cry.
You could start a company that ends up buying Apple one day. Who knows.
Those possibilities don’t come from the people who push limits onto you. They come from you. You get to make it happen. You get to do that work, and accomplish those incredible things. You get to, because you alone can say Yes.
When I think about the people who have already changed the world, I don’t think of them as demigods.
I look at them as other human beings were told No and looked right up at that person and defied them. Who were told they can’t and went the fuck out and did it anyway.
In my moments of silence, I sometimes think Astronauts must feel the ultimate fear.
It’s a human reaction, when you feel isolated and apart, when you’re taking a risk and striking into the wild unknown.
Those people who embarked on a mission and a journey without any concept of what could lie ahead. They entered space, knowing that a perfect storm could lead to their deaths — alone among the stars.
I think sometimes, about the people who live in the hands of fate, who run to glory, who take a shot when they don’t know what could happen.
The people who live, breathe and act with reckless abandon.
There have been hundreds of thousands of these people.
And there will be hundreds of thousands more.
People who listen to the limits and reject them.
People who defy what we think they can do.
People who defy what they’re told they can do.
People who defy what’s been written and write something completely new.
People like you.