Making Ripples

An old but all-too-true cliche: You can’t please everyone. The problem with trying to please all the people all the time is that it turns you into a big chunk of mush disguised as a human being. No one hates you, but no one loves you either.

I’ve always felt that the saddest way to go through life would be to never even make a ripple. Whether it’s Al Gore or George Bush, Michael Moore or Jerry Falwell, the Dalai Lama or Rupert Murdoch, they all have one thing in common: They make ripples. In fact, they make big ripples.

And so should you if you want to live life as opposed to just passing through on your way to the grave. When you get up every morning, the first thing you should do is ask yourself if you did anything yesterday to make a ripple. Even more important, ask yourself what you can do to make a ripple today.

All great achievements begin in the mind. Thinking about ripples leads to making ripples. Don’t fear being different. Don’t fear offending people who get their noses out of joint because they don’t like what you say or do. Don’t fear downside consequences to the point where you can’t bring yourself to take action. Above all, don’t fear making big ripples. Do things that no one has ever done before. Shock your competitors. Leapfrog over the pack.

The ever-quotable 17th century Jesuit priest Baltasar Gracian said it eloquently: “Have stomach for the large morsels of fortune…. Great accomplishments are built on great capacity…. There are many who cannot enjoy highly seasoned dishes because of their natural limitations, neither having been born to, or having been accustomed to, such high fare.”

I guess it’s true that some people simply don’t have the stomach to think big thoughts, let alone take big actions. The ultimate nightmare for such people is waking up some fine morning only to discover that they’re going in the opposite direction from where the mainstream is headed. To people with a lemming mentality, acceptance is more important than money, dignity, or purpose. Which is unfortunate, because success and the desire for acceptance are mutually exclusive objectives.

If you strive to be loved by everyone, you will end up being loved by no one.

Remember this well: Whatever your occupation, if you say or do something that gets half the world angry – or at least indignant – the other half is almost certain to love you. And guess what? You don’t need half the people in the world loving you in order to get everything you want in life. One-tenth of one percent will do just fine.

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