Legacy Projects and the Love of True Friends

Legacy Projects and the Love of True Friends

When you begin to share your important work with the world, a funny thing happens: some of the people closest to you don’t understand it.

They damn you with faint praise, or they point out something trivial that could be improved. Sometimes they never say anything at all, which of course is the worst thing.

When the time comes to show off your great project, you’re all, “Hey! Check out this thing that I did!”

And they’re all, “Oh. That’s nice.”


You feel crushed because you desperately wanted their approval, even though you knew this was probably an unhealthy desire. (Just because you know something to be true doesn’t mean you always abide by it.)

You wanted—and expected—them to say, “This is great! I always knew you could do this. How can I help make it better? How can we tell the world about it?”

But no, you don’t get that at all. You just get the the faint praise, the brush-off, the indifference.

Then you realize … maybe this thing just wasn’t that important to them. Or maybe you didn’t know them as well as you thought you did. How sad.

But then! Another interesting thing happens.

All kinds of other people suddenly appear. Your fan club. Your support crew. A small army of remarkable people.

These people are all, “WOW. THANK YOU FOR DOING THIS. Here’s how my life is different because of the risk you took and the courage you displayed.”

You feel surprised. Refreshed. Energized. And most of all, you feel responsible to keep going, because you see it was good that you went ahead with your project even if you weren’t universally loved.

Some of the people you expect to be your biggest supporters will disappoint you—and some of the people you rarely thought about, or didn’t even know existed, will turn out to be your true friends.

This is how it works when you begin to share yourself with the world.

It’s a funny thing.


Image: Jeff

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  • Brandina Vines says:

    Thank you for this 🙂 I just started a blog and have been wondering why some of the people I expected to read it, even if to simply show their support for me, have yet to do so. It’s crazy how much you notice that, even when you try not to.

  • Tom Ewer says:

    In an effort to be an optimist, there is one other thing…maybe they don’t realise how important it is to you. If they just don’t care…well then they’re not much of a friend, are they?

    As an aside, Chris, I love the blog – I know I’ve said this before but hell, I’m sure you don’t mind 🙂

    Yours is one of the very flew blogs where I read the article regardless of the title.

  • Liz says:

    This is so true. I am frequently upset because of the lack of support from those closest to me. Really makes me doubt my talents and abilities – and is in sharp contrast to the support shown to some of my peers by their families. I know I shouldn’t live for approval but it’s hard.

    However, when clients thank me for excellent work and ideas (I’m a fairly new interior designer, it’s my second career) it makes it all worthwhile and some of the confidence returns.

    But what do I do about the fact that I deal with the indifference from my husband and other family by retreating more and more into my own world? The gap is widening…

  • Dawn says:

    Haha…boy is this right. The one’s who should be your biggest supporters are usuallly the one’s who spend the most time tearing you down. Why? Fear. Fear they may lose you to your dream, when they don’t even know they have their own.

    I am my biggest fan…and when I’m open to it, I find many more who I would never expect.

  • Leanne Regalla says:

    This is SO true and something that I struggled with greatly until I started to understand it. (Still do, but it does help to understand…) And my experience is exactly as you say – some people who are closest to me completely don’t understand and yet the support from so many other people is so huge that I know I HAVE to keep going.

    It’s funny you wrote about this today. I’m putting together a workshop for musicians & creative entrepreneurs to help them define their vision and this is a note I just made – to include a discussion about the support (or not) of people who love you.

  • Barbara says:

    Hmmmm… are you sitting in my head? I was nodding and grinning and sighing when I read this… it is all so true and a bit sad as well… as you say: just because I know something, I don’t necessarily abide by it… thank you for voicing my thoughts and feelings. It’s a funny thing…

  • Cate says:

    My first experience with what you described was when I decided to spend my senior year of high school as an exchange student. Initially I was surprised that most people responded to my decision with indifference. But then I realized that it just wasn’t an experience that was important to them, it just wasn’t their thing. And that was ok.

    What I really wanted was to feel like I wasn’t alone in a new, thrilling, scary experience. As soon as I went abroad I found my people, my support, my new friends – I most definitely wasn’t alone!

    I realized that I’d been looking to the wrong people for what I felt I needed. It was a good lesson to learn at a young age.

  • Brandy says:

    Thanks Chris, I needed this today. I’ve only been at this for about 6 months. Last week I poured my heart into a risky blog post about the night, seven years ago, I spent in jail. I felt compelled to write it and received lots of comments and feedback from people telling me how much it meant to them.

    I also got an email from my mom.

    She was reeling and devastated that I would admit my misdeed to the world. She urged me to write more “happy thoughts and poems from when I was in high school that would knock a publishers socks off”. Heh. Sigh.

    I don’t know if I should assume from this post that you’ve experienced something similar. But I thought I’d let you know how much your work means to me. Thanks Chris, for doing what you do.

  • Julia says:

    Thank you for this. I could have written it, it rings so true for me…

  • L. Marie Joseph says:

    This is real talk. People you didn’t expect to support you are there.

    Then again life is unpredictable..

  • Amber J. says:

    I’ve always found it harder to share my work with the people closest to me than the new people I am meeting online. I guess it is because I know my audience will at least get where I am coming from because we have similar interests. My friends, well, I just hope that they support me.

  • Farnoosh says:

    That is EXACTLY what happens when you share yourself with the world. The exact process. Your closest friends never breathe a word about it. Your parents wonder what the hell you are doing. Your other friends say things here and there or just completely leave you alone and strangers come to tell you how you have changed and are changing their lives. And when you get over the silly heartbreak and ridiculous disappointment of the former thing, you start to celebrate the latter thing. And you realize it’s enough. You cannot be everything to everyone but if this is what you are meant to do, it is enough and it’s worth doing every day. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here, Chris.

  • Elissa says:

    Your friends who don’t understand? Love them anyway. But don’t give them the chance to rain on this parade twice. They’ll be there for you in other ways.

    The friends and acquaintances who jump in, THANK YOU SO MUCH! What would we do without you?

  • Ali Macaluso says:

    I have to agree with @Barbara: “Are you sitting in my head?” So true, and I so needed to read this! I am glad I am not the only one who feels this way. In the end, sharing yourself and expressing yourself is the only way to go.

  • Deborah A. says:

    I just had my daughter read this post and she is ELATED. She is a young writer and all those around her (except me!) are naysayers. I have trodden the same path ahead of her as an artist. I told her ‘look, this guy is doing it and I’ve done it and so can you!” To heck with the negative thinkers. As you said, the support group WILL show up… and usually right on time! Thanks again for the usual dose of pep talk/reality check!

  • Mikeachim says:

    Very true.

    And “support” doesn’t just equate to praise, which can be well-meant but empty. The people who dig what you’re doing enough to get involved, to challenge and question and thrash out with you, as well as cheering you on…they’re the true friends and supporters. They really have your back.

  • Chris Koelker says:

    It’s so fab to read your piece today. Just what I needed sitting here in the atl airport and working away on my blog/site/book. You’re one of those amazing people I look forward to cheering me on despite the doubts. Thx one more time. Ck

  • Shirley Showalter says:

    You hit the nail on the head, Chris. I think family and friends who are not online a lot feel a little threatened by two things: (1) the change, growth, new interests, and passions of someone they thought they knew “as is.” (2) the whole world of the internet and social media. Bloggers comment on blogs because they love to get comments back. Family members of bloggers often don’t know how to use an RSS feed or even find the comment section. Filling in the reply blanks can be daunting to first-time users.

    I’ve come to accept that I am making new online friends and that some of my friends and family won’t be in that group. I’m ok with that. But I really love support from both groups. If I asked for their support, they would learn enough to give it to me, but I’m not sure it would be a worthy investment of their time or mine.

  • Austin L. Church says:

    Chris, what you’re describing is familiar indeed. Jesus said that a prophet is never accepted in his hometown. All those family members, long-time friends, and otherwise supportive fans don’t understand why you need to travel; they may even feel threatened by it: What’s wrong with here? Why do you always have to leave?” I remember the first time one of my poems was published. After reading it, my dad, who has always been present and pretty encouraging, said, “Does this mean you think my life is boring?” Geez. After the first time I studied abroad, I told my parents, thinking they would be as excited as I was, “I will never be able to live the same.” They were not excited. Geez. But God brings us another family in the form of people who understand our legacy work, benefit from it, and inspire us to do it with courage.

  • Liz K Zook says:

    This is beyond true! When I launched my kickstarter to start a clothing line it was evident my friends didn’t care.
    People I have never met are pledging and people I’ve known my entire life won’t even look at it no matter how important it is to me. It’s disappointing, yes. On the other hand, you really learn something about the people you’ve been spending your time with.
    Another thing is, you really start to see which of your friends are as determined and ambitious as you are. They are more likely to be supportive because they know what it’s like to be in your shoes.

    Mostly, I think the friends that aren’t supportive are afraid of what you’re doing. It’s never something they would try and it scares them that you’re so willing to step outside of the box and do something different. A lot of people are afraid of success.

  • Jan says:

    This just happened to me and it has been eye-opening.

    It has really made me think about my motives. Did I do this “thing” for them? Yea, it hurt for a while but it has also helped me to grow and realize that my goals and passions are what have been put it my heart to do. I don’t do these things (or shouldn’t) for the praise or admiration of others. If I can push through those feelings I think it will be more rewarding and I will be a better and stronger person because of it.

  • Barbara Winter says:

    First of all, I’ve been planning to tell you how your writing keeps getting better and better (and it started out great). Then this brilliant example shows up.

    This really strikes a chord (to use a cliche) because it’s such a common, but surprising, experience. When we step out and follow our dreams–no matter what–we unwittingly cause discomfort in those who have abandoned their own dreams.

    I love Pressfield’s pointing out that we will lose friends, but we will find new ones in places we never thought to look. It’s one of the prizes, don’t you think?

  • Kathy Nicholls says:

    Your timing could not have been more perfect for me today as this is exactly what’s happening in my world. Thanks for this and for the reminder that it’s really about the people we work with where we can make a difference. I needed this one today!

  • Jami says:

    This post couldn’t have been published on a better day. I am in the midst of starting a nonprofit consulting company. To be honest, I’d like to think of a different name because we want to be MORE than just a consultant. I want to help people think differently about the way they’ve always done things, I want to teach them to really engage with their constituents and employees. I want to teach them to really listen and then act. My spouse, the person closest to me, doesn’t get it. It’s all very touchy, feely, warm, fuzzy and he just doesn’t understand. It’s hard. Really hard. I find myself not sharing because he’ll tell me how to do it differently or tell me it won’t work. It’s frustrating. But, you are exactly right, when someone does get it, really get’s it, the feeling is amazing.

  • Billy says:

    I left big corporate 2 months ago and the calls/emails/texts have been tremendous! Yes, many of them I could have predicted and it still feels awesome to hear from them however even better are the calls making sure I am ok from people I would have never guessed. There have been many odd moments in the last 2 months and these good notes far outweigh the naysayers. Actually I am so busy it is fairly easy to ignore any of the negative people.

  • Angela J Mattson says:

    YES! That’s exactly what I’m feeling – a deep responsibility to my list, who are fans, who give me feedback, and who ask for MORE! I never thought about it like this – but I surely will focus on it now.

  • Rex John says:

    Excellent post, Chris. It’s nice to receive affirmation — especially from those we love the most — but I can’t wait until I’m mature enough not to “need” it. When we fail to get strokes from friends and family, and it causes us pain, it’s probably a good time to examine our motives.

  • John Carpenter says:

    Ahhh, I know too well that of which you write. It all began for me in the 80’s when I took my first overseas position in Asunción, Paraguay. Those we love the most sometimes just don’t get it.

    Well, I’m much older and only a little bit wiser now, but I’ve learned to accept the love from folks even if it doesn’t come the way I’d hoped it might. And I’ve also realized that I don’t always share the same enthusiasm for every one of the projects that my friends and family embrace, too. Funny world, but it can all be good if we are open about how we accept it.

  • Kim says:

    This is so true, Chris. And sometimes it’s even people who truly do love you. But, it could be that they just don’t get it, they’re too busy, it’s threatening to them, or it’s not something they personally are interested in. We tend to take it personally, but really it’s more where they are at right now.

    Of course, if they are tearing you down, then you need to take a good look at that relationship.

  • Jeremy says:

    This is a nice article and gives me reinforcement. As you say Chris even if you are mentally aware of a reaction it does not always help with the emotional impact. Keep up the good work with helping the rest of us get to where we need to be.

  • Candice says:

    The trick (for me) is not to give up in that somber place where it seems no one cares. If you can push through that without bending and contorting to please those are aren’t really interested, and without giving up your mission, you can get to those people who want to hear your message.

  • Marsha says:

    Welcome to the art world experience. You describe the typical response to artists regarding our work’s reception.

  • Jill Lena Ford says:

    I had a similar thing happen to me last year when I launched a huge new art venture that I poured my heart and soul into. Some of my closest friends didn’t even say a word about it to me and it really hurt. But it was the fans who came out of the woodwork and supported me that gave me more motivation and confidence and a sense that I was affecting people with my work.They helped me to continue on. It also created a good opportunity to redefine my relationships with the friends who didn’t show up for me, and find a healthier direction for our friendship to continue in.

    Thanks for sharing. It’s nice to know that we are not alone in the strange twists and turns of building and living our remarkable life.

  • Kai says:

    This reminds me of that expression the Universe does not like a void and so must fill it up. If people you thought were going to support you don’t, others will show up to take their place. Love it!

  • Douglas Newton says:

    “What do you care what other people think?” Richard Feynman.
    “To know on this day or any day that I am sufficient, just as I am. . .” Walt Whitman.

    Since everyone identifies with this post so much, it’s interesting to ask ourselves why we need approval to do what we do. Much as expectation may be the root of suffering, there is love and connection is such expectations, as there is also in the act of sharing something we have created with the world. Not getting approval from those we love is almost like somebody not fawning over your baby. How dare they not see how cute my daughter is?

    I would posit that defiance is also useful. I am sometimes motivated by wanting to prove to those who doubt me that I am more capable than they imagined. This is how I got into a good school. This is how I finished my novel and what pushed me through writing a string quartet.

    But I think praise is also a double-edged sword. To be emotionally centered, it can be important to distance oneself from the defining powers of others opinions from the beginning . A project ideally justifies itself and is its own reward. Everything after that is gravy, and should be impersonally received.

  • Mandy says:

    This post is very timely for me. I just had an experience that made me realize this on my own a few days ago. Glad to know I’m not the only one with unexpected reactions.

  • Jetaun says:

    I agree, whole heartedly. It’s something that many of us learn the hard way and it never seems to get any easier learning to deal with it. That just seems to happen when you want to be different from everyone else.

  • Gemmond says:

    This kind of response applies to more than just bloggers who post online or write publicly elsewhere. But there are often legitimate reasons that family and/or friends object or are upset by what you post. I’ve read things online and thought: Gee, did the writer even remotely consider that while unloading their own feelings that somebody else’s might be in jeopardy? Just because you can say it out loud, frankly, doesn’t mean you always should. Especially given what so many people post online these days. And I’m not big on censorship of any kind other than serious self-editing, no matter the topic, but most especially with personal history, etc.

    To expect even those who genuinely love us and care about us, to always get and/or support our efforts, whether writing or something else, is setting ourselves up. In life, we control only intention, not outcome. Nonattachment. Tough, but needed.

  • Jenny says:

    This is exactly what I’ve felt the past several months.
    And I know that it is part of what has held me back these last few months, too.
    I’ve been scared to open myself up to any more criticism, I’ve had enough this year!
    But it’s a process.
    And I remind myself that, I needed to learn to stand on my own. And I will.
    Thank you for writing this so succinctly.

  • Lesley King says:

    I have found that putting my work out there for whomever to see is the greatest test of my devotion to my path. Sometimes I’ll post something a little dangerous and afterward be nearly overcome by fear of certain people reading it. Always I am rewarded by taking this risk, and often by responses from people whom I would never have guessed would be interested.

  • Renee O'Leary says:

    Two questions to check in with.

    Which people are unsupportive? if it is your life partner, then this situation has to be addressed, while with others it is simply an area you do not share.

    If it is your partner, is he or she uninterested in your TOPIC or uninterested in your LABOR?

    When I find an exceptional bit of data on my research topic, tobacco control, I do not expect my circle of friends and family to get excited, but I do crave the support for the joy of the work, the “atta girl.”

    I edited a book for an author whose partner never read a word of his publications, yet supported his work in many ways, particularly praise for making deadlines and finding new topics.

    Keep working on your legacies. Hold tight to your relationships.

  • Ben says:

    Stay out of my head! 😛 Thank you so much, Chris. It’s comforting to know that so many excellent people have similar obstacles in our lives. Everyone who posts here fills me with confidence and motivation to stick to my dreams, no matter how much work it takes or how hard it is to understand for others. To hell with the doubters and nay-sayers in my life. To hell, I say.

  • Ryan Hightower says:

    So true, this is….

  • Rob Britt says:

    The unsung heroes. Most people are recognized inside their own circles until they prove themselves outside of those circles. I can totally relate to this as most of my family still thinks “what the _ is he doing?”
    I’m okay with that. After twenty years of confusing them with my behavior I would think they’d be used to it by now.. Unconventional thinking and unconventional life gives you unconventional results.

  • Tori Deaux says:

    This has *so* been my experience! And it really kept me stifled, for a while. Now, I cheat around the edges of it, by doing my damnedest to keep family and long term friends from seeing my real work. Sure, they want to support me, but it makes them uncomfortable. It’s just not the part of me they understand and connect to. It makes them wrinkle their noses and look confused. The part of me that matters to the world? It doesn’t really matter to my mother, my sister in law, my husband. But that’s ok.. because the parts that matter to family? Those parts will never really matter that much to the world, either.

  • Joe says:

    I’ll admit, I was a bit surprised by the “underwhelming” response when I shared my blog amongst my Facebook friends, most of whom I know very well. But I wasn’t disappointed. Like anything else, they have to be genuinely interested in the content, and it has to put in front of them enough times to get and keep their attention.

    On the other hand, those folks who discovered the blog on-line are its most fervent supporters. Go figure! They didn’t know me at all! But that’s the beauty of it. To those people, you are a totally fresh voice with something valuable to offer. Sometimes, you just have to wait for friends and family to catch up!

  • Rose says:

    But are we jumping in to help, to give praise, to share our loved ones’ important work? Notice the greatness your loved ones are doing, even if you don’t understand it. People often return the favor. We are all capable of great things and this world is plenty big enough to hold all the greatness.

  • Crystal Leist says:

    This may sound sad but often times I find that sometimes the people closest to you can feel jealous of your accomplishments… so really it’s not that they don’t care, but they are reflecting feelings about themselves and what they may or may not be doing with their own life. Therefore they minimize yours.

  • Si Hui says:

    I actually beg to differ. The people who show indifference may also be your true friends – they just don’t share your passion in this field. Some of my dearest friends would never understand my interest in photography and graphics – but they are always here for me, supportive, forgiving, loving. Similarly, all the fans? Some are just kiss asses, and you get too caught up in the whirlwind of praise to see otherwise.

  • Janet Romano says:

    I’m thrilled to see all of these comments, as I’ve realized that in my life I’ve been stifled by this exact experience. I’m still waiting for approval from those I love on so many things ….. and that’s my problem! What a weight off my shoulders! The folks that I love can take it or leave it, and that’s OK! I’m moving forward, they will see my happiness and success, and they will cheer me on ….. eventually ….. maybe.

    On the other hand, I am sorry to say that I have also been on the other side. I have said nothing at times when I should have been supportive and encouraging. From here on, I vow to ask more questions, understand what others need, want, and love, and be their biggest fan and promoter whenever possible!

  • Brett Henley says:

    Funny how you manage to offer these wonderful nuggets at the most opportune times.

    Experiencing much of this myself right now with a legacy project. I expected some indifference, the inevitable distractions of the information age make it challenging to break through and grab people’s attention sometimes, even the closest of friends.

    I guess that’s why legacy projects aren’t built overnight 😉

    Thanks as always Chris … needed this reminder.

  • Susan T. Blake says:

    In my experience, this is true of anything that touches us that scares other people. I found similar reactions when my husband died; some people surprised me with their lack of support and even disappearance, while others, including some whom I barely knew or whom I’d previously sworn had been raised by wolves, awed me with the power and beauty of their support.

    This has taught me something about not judging those from whom I don’t get the support I need: It helps me to wonder what it is they might be afraid of. That can be hard to remember when my hurt and disappointment clouds my reactions, but it does help. And it helps to remember that the fact that they’re afraid doesn’t mean they don’t love me. It’s just their fear. And it is THEIR fear, it doesn’t have to infect me.

  • Kelly Graham says:

    I usually enjoy your writing, but today I’m disappointed.

    “you’re all”……..

    “And they’re all”……….

    “These people are all”……

    This isn’t good writing. These are just examples of the current conversational degredation of our language. You can do better. Please return to real writing!

  • Amber says:

    This is so true – I take comfort to know others have experienced it too!

    At the same time, those friends may not be your target market or they have competing interests (your time, etc.) or they do not comprehend the blood/sweat/tears that go into it.
    Find the ones that are supportive but be careful that you don’t wear them out!

  • John Sherry says:

    Chris, I’m with you. I’m about to leave my home town after four decades and the complete lack on enthusiasm of my life long friends is rather flatenning. They haven’t wanted to see me off, throw a party, or even invite me round.

    Still, their loss. ‘Cause I too have met a new crew who say, ‘Hi, come on by’ and ‘Love what you do’. It’s sad to say goodbye but if people don’t mind if you go then it was the right decision all along. Friendship and support should exist whether you’re a thousand miles away or right there in someone’s arms. You agree?

  • Kim Kircher says:

    Interesting how at the times in our lives when we are being stretched–either through difficult struggles or great triumphs–our true friends emerge.

  • Erin McNaughton says:

    It’s interesting, I just posted a blog post about that yesterday. Often we toil away at things, but can’t see the fruits of our labor until people come forward and say that you’ve inspired them or changed their life. It is such a phenomenal realization!

  • Greg Fuson says:

    It took me a long time to come to grips with this. You don’t just want people to like your work, you want the RIGHT people to like it. And then a friend and mentor taught me something simple and profound: “Whoever shows up are the right people.” Thanks for sharing this, Chris.

  • Gregory Berg says:

    This piece really hits home for me, as I’ve recently launched something that gets the same reaction you describe from many friends and family. So reading this right NOW for me was perfect!

    Fear of that reaction was why I sat on the sidelines and passively avoided jumping down the rabbit hole for a long time. But to quote Anais Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

  • Toni says:

    Oh, the surprises! Isn’t that part of the joy? If you don’t get too hung up in the reactions of other people then its really quite delightful in the end.

  • Karl says:

    It often seems one of the most important efforts we can make in our legacy project is to find those loyal supporters.

    Any suggestions for keeping your spirits high when the supporters aren’t around?

  • L.I. says:

    You just verbalized what I realized this year. Last September, I quit my job to travel and pursue my career passion for writing. I definitely developed a whole new support crew in the process (most were people I would not have expected) and some of the people I expected to support me (my boyfriend, for example) were less than supportive or rather indifferent.

    Following our dreams and being authentic and true to our selves is so hard, but I think it helps us see which people are “fake” and which are “real” and as hard as that is, I am grateful for that.

  • David says:

    So true! But the rewards outweigh the price. The initial process of stepping out is the hardest part for me. I’m one of those who are easily hamstrung by the “What if’s” — at some point you just have to go for it, which is what I’m doing. Thanks for your example, Chris.

  • Dee says:

    Boy ain’t that the truth. From friends and family. *Silence* Absolute strangers, *Standing Ovation* I don’t think I’ll suffer from big head syndrome anytime soon, lol.

  • Bjorn Karlman says:

    Wow, talk about a battle cry for the border-hopping lifestyle. Excellent job! I especially liked the fact that despite the inescapable fact that some people close to you simply WILL NOT get it, a whole tribe of others emerges to be supportive.

    I am realizing more and more how your mindset is a make or break factor as well. For example, if you indulge the unhealthy yet oh-so-tempting urge to need approval from people (even key family members), you really are crushed when they shoot you down.. You feel that the mobile lifestyle is just what they say – unrealistic, irresponsible, “out there”, etc. Focusing attention on your exciting goals and “the small army” of supporters, however is the most liberating and encouraging thing you can do to propel you you continue. A think tank of sorts of like-minded game changers… that’s what I think can help.

    Question – reaching out to like-minded people online is – I’m guessing – one the most effective way to connect today. What are your tips for building alliances and supportive, adventurous friends online – works and what doesn’t?

  • Keri says:

    As others have said, this post came at exactly the right time!

    I am running my second marathon on Sunday, and I’ve been surprised at some of the reactions. It’s always disappointing when people you love just don’t get it. Because they really don’t understand, they grasp for something to say, which usually comes out in the form of warnings or cautions or some horror story a vague someone related to them once.

    Meanwhile, the people you least expect come through with sound advice and encouragement that makes you want to press on.

    The absolute best is when you’re finished, and someone you didn’t even know was watching says you changed their life.

    It makes the race a little bit bigger in the grand scheme of things.

  • Alana says:

    This is exactly what I needed to hear today.

  • Chea says:

    How true that is! Beautifully put. And know that there are many more who will never tell you how much your work helps them, how much they appreciate it.

    I’ve had this experience, too. Don’t think there’s anyone who decided to do something “outside the box” that hasn’t been surprised at the apathy by some of their friends and family. But what a beautiful gift it is to find out how filled the world is with strangers who become allies and friends.

    Keep up the great work!

  • Gaskill says:

    It is only your expectations that let you down. Not people…

  • Laurie says:

    I’m discovering this myself, and the lack of enthusiasm from some really is sad…but I’m loving the new friends and supporters, and never dreamed my experiences could bring the reactions they have. It’s such a blessing to find that focusing on my own dreams first really does make me more capable of also helping others. 🙂

  • Melissa says:

    Thank you for this today. Not just to you, Chris, for writing it, but also to all the people who have responded that they, too, have had similar experiences. It has come at the perfect time, and makes me feel so much better to see (rather than just tell myself it is so), that I am not alone in this.

    Definitely feeling much better about my day!

  • Nathalie Lussier says:

    I have definitely experienced this as well. It’s amazing how quickly the people you consider to be a part of your insider circle changes when you start to change. When you start to create or become more of who you are.

    It’s not to say that your original circle of friends was not real or made up of good people. It’s just that we all have different paths and things that are important to us. 🙂

  • Ariane says:

    I have been in the process of changing my way of life (changing my foods habit, selling my car etc) and I found that the persons who had more problems with that were my family and old friends. I think they feel insecure of me changing because they cannot relate to the “new me” and fell somehow threatened.

    At first I was wounded by this attitude but I had an epiphany a few days ago and noticed that I did not need their approval to go on with my life as I wish and this was really liberating.
    Thank you for your enlightening articles. You gave me back the desire to go ahead with my dreams. Eventually am I going to dare doing this backpack trip alone in India.

  • Jennifer Campbell says:

    Well, you can only control your own actions and reactions.

    I refuse to allow negative comments (even supposed well – meaning ones) to disway me from my path.

    I am a damn good photographer and I have a valuable service to offer people. Thanks to sites like this one and Zen Habits, I am going for it and my business will be a success. In fact, that it is already open makes it a success.

    Peace and prosperity to all.

  • Jacqueline says:

    Chris, This is one of your best posts yet. It is true. I’ve found people (like you, for example!) cheering me on, and others who have known me for decades not even ask what I’m doing! Thank you for writing this and for giving this community the chance to think about this issue and talk about it together. Keep it up!

  • Maiya Rose says:

    So true – and yet years from now those same folks who “forgot” to say “great job” will walk beside you and quietly tell you that the work you did inspired them to go do something they loved, or to take care of themselves, or to travel, or (fill in the blank)…. So it’s all good! AND I do love your writing – you’re inspiring me to be more.

    Blessings and Possibilities,
    Maiya Rose

  • Dale Power says:

    I loved this! It’s so ironic and true.

    I started a project around encouragement this year. It’s something that I think that the world needs alot more of and especially the business world! So one of my closest business friends made the snarky remark that” I should just concentrate on building my business and forget the stupid encouragment project.”

    Of course, I ignored him. It’s slow going but I think it will be fine. As soon as I started sharing what I was up to with others less close to me, I have gotten comments about how inspiring it is. Go figure.

  • Riley Harrison says:

    We all need to be loved and supported but don’t shop for an ice-cream cone in a hardware store. Don’t expect people to give you what they don’t have. Be proactive and find people that are empathetic, nurturing, supportive and share your victories and excitement with them.

  • Sherrie Phillips says:

    You know what they say about a “prophet in their own home”. They are never understood or appreciated. I think it’s just human nature. Also, I think it can be fear. Friends and family fear you will change and/or leave them behind if you have too much success. And, your message may not be for everyone. So you are wise to recognize your audience when it shows up and don’t let the others drag you down.

  • Ros Virisheff says:

    As usual, Chris, your simple and universal truths resonates (with so many people, obviously!). For too long i’ve allowed the lack of interest / dissonance with my perspective to act as a depressing blanket which i’ve allowed to stop me being who i’m meant to be, and committing to do what i’m meant to do. Thanks for the encouragement to be true to myself.

  • Marion Langford says:

    When I started my own coaching and consulting practice, I was surprised by where my support did and did not come from. My conclusion? People offer support in different ways, and in different areas. My job was to recognize what a friend was offering, and to receive it, and not hold it against them when it wasn’t the thing I most wanted or needed from them.

  • Nasser Ugoji says:

    Those close to you may not be immediately passionate about what you have done but they expect you to truly work at what you are passionate about & what you’re good at. So they say “nice” and its up to you to keep up the good work. This is better than getting flattery from someone who really doesn’t get “it”. Those that get “it” will be in the larger population. At home and with friends I was considered a mediocre dancer but when I travelled to another country amongst strangers I earned the title “dance master”.

  • Rosario says:

    TRUE, thank you.

  • Jean says:

    I’ve learned to be my own best support, congratulating myself on work well done, tasks achieved, living true to myself, being authentic. Approval from anyone else is icing on the cake that is already fabulous.

  • Bradley Hartmann says:

    Perfect post at the perfect time…. Just dumped the corporate white collar gig a week ago and the crickets out of some family members is distracting and frustrating. Your post puts it all in perspective. Thank you.

  • Tree says:

    Thank you for this reminder. Even though I know better, and have been in business for 5 years, lately I have focused too much on those who don’t share my vision and not enough attention to my supporters. Now I will remember to keep my focus where it is the most important.

  • Sue Brettell says:

    So true! And I thought it was just me. My mother tries valiantly to be understanding and supportive, but I might as well be speaking a foreign language when I talk about technology – I’m a graphic designer by the way. Most of my friends are the opposite of supportive. There’s a weird assumption that someone working from home isn’t doing anything useful with their time. One, otherwise very dear, friend told me that addiction to the internet is an illness. They all dismiss the fact that I’ve been working 10-12 hours a day, seven a week for over a year absorbing information and researching for various ebooks etc. They suggest I get a part-time job in a shop or office.

    What I’ve learnt from my experience is to never get my hopes up that anyone will want to celebrate my triumphs with me, and, more importantly, to give as much support and encouragement as I can to my family and friends in their endeavours because I know what a welcome gift that can be.

  • Robyn says:

    Jesus of Nazareth found this too. Those close to him ditched him or ‘dissed’ him. He attracted a whole new band of people.

    I think it’s a universal principle.


  • Roy Marvelous says:

    Very true. I initially started my blog with my friends in mind but have realized that my biggest supporters now are people I’ve never even met! I don’t take it personally though – I think sometimes the people closest to you just don’t want you to change the person you are.

  • unblechbar says:

    Great post. Do you think your friends should always support you? What do expect from them when you know they re not interested in your project, but love you as a person?
    Is a person always the sum of his actions or isn’t the character more important?
    How do you find your legacy project?
    I have some ideas but neither of them is “Hell YEAH!”.

    I love your posts and your book is one of my favourites.

  • Kent says:

    So true!

    This concept is something we’re always explaining to people. When you decide not to pursue “the dream of the planet” it’s uncomfortable for some friends/family. When you break the mold, it’s a harsh reminder to others that they’re pursuing a templated version of success and happiness. Hopefully – in the end – your unique action will inspire them to pursue their own dream (whatever that is).

    In the meantime, you have the support of your tribe – those people who may not even know you but who say “how cool!” when you share your plans.

    When we rejiggered life a few years back, we were blown away by the sour response from some people. We struggled with it a bit but, ultimately, kept marching on. Good thing, too, because we are now living the life of our dreams.

    Our advice… Don’t let that stop you for a second. Instead, let the support of your tribe buoy you. In the quest to be who your meant to be, there’s no time for nay-sayers.

  • Alex Humphrey says:

    It’s a funny thing; it’s a hard thing.

    Getting up to that point where all these sudden supporters appear is the hard part. Struggling through the crushing blows of indifference. Of knowing intellectually that many will enjoy the work while those closest barely care about it.

  • Caz Makepeace says:

    My husband and I have been experiencing this very thing. It is not a nice thing to deal with but is definitely part of the challenge that comes from breaking away from the traditional molds of everyone else around you. Those who know you the most will fear your new movement forward as they don’t know what this means for them and they don’t understand why you want to be different to them.,
    We have learned to just share our news with those who are our true supporters and friends.

  • Lee Ann Monat says:

    I have found this to be very true in my life. I have let go of certain relationships that didn’t support who I was evolving into and gained so much more in the wake of those “losses.” It truly is amazing…

  • sherold says:

    Wow – this is exactly what I’ve been feeling about my friends. And it’s the other people that I hang online with or coach that I’m finding are my peeps. Thanks for writing this. As many others have said, this post comes at the right time for me.

    Thanks for showing the way.

  • Wyman says:

    I remember when we retured from 2 years in Saudi Ababia and high school in Beirut, Lebannon, the greatest adventure in our lives. The relatives were interested for about half an hour then back to the TV. But TV was new so how could we compete with that?

  • Jessi says:

    That’s an interesting thing that I’ve found to be true, as well. I always get the snide comments from my mother when I wish she would be more helpful instead of skeptical. They mean well, though they don’t often realize how much their comments (or lack thereof) have an affect on us. Either that or they’re wondering why they can’t do the things we do, I guess. Anyway, keep doing what you’re doing if you like doing it. You can’t please everyone.

  • Kellie Brooks says:

    How I wish this weren’t true, but I’ve found it to be so. Some of my best friends, whom I’ve supported and encouraged over the years, don’t even MENTION that I write now, or if they do, it’s faint praise, as you say. I’m living my dream, and it’s like nothing to them.


    But how glad I am that the 2nd part IS true! Strangers who read my blog say I’m destined for greater things, that they’ll be 1st in line to buy my book, that what I’m doing is inspirational, skillful, interesting, meaningful. And this shoots me OVER THE MOON!

    Thank the universe for allowing me to have the opportunities I have now, that these wonderful cheerleaders and engagers have shown up with their pompoms, and that I get to do what I’m doing!

    What a life!! I’m so grateful…

    Thank you, Chris, for showing me that my experience is not isolated. Makes all the difference to know it’s not just me.

  • noknow says:

    It’s funny, but as true as all that you and posters said, for me it is also true in reverse… I barely know, and much less care, what my family are into.

  • Jason says:

    Man, this hit me so hard I almost cried.

  • Carol says:

    Exactly where I am. Did a little something that is a big thing — for me. Got the “That’s nice,” response. Thought I was just being over sensitive or maybe that my big thing wasn’t such a big thing. Okay, I’ll still enjoy it as my big thing.

  • Kelsey says:

    Fittingly, my reaction to this post was, “WOW. THANK YOU FOR DOING THIS.” Truly – thanks Chris!

  • Jon says:

    We are domesticated and seek recognition. We break the domestication through self-acceptance and practicing the art of living. We can only do this with practice; it’s not always about popularity.

  • Sarah says:

    So true! I expected my father and like-minded people near me to support and praise me, but I got quite the opposite like “Oh that’s cute, but that will never happen.” Kind of like an attitude of extreme underestimation of my potential and abilities. Unexpectedly, my mother, who I use to have a difficult relationship with, has been my number one fan since I started deviating the path people told me I should take. I love her to death for believing in me even when no one else would.

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