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Don’t listen to anyone, or persistence of vision.

Last week I met with Coen and Karin, Dutch overlanders who have been traveling for the past 19 years in their truck 🚍. Battling the voices of their careers, homes, parents, friends and settled society , Karin and Coen are obviously a more extreme example of persistently pursuing their vision of their life. Each of us too is making a choice every day about who we listen to any how what we hear defines our vision of what we want.

Why not listen to anyone?

Being in Uzbekistan, I have become more aware of the different agendas different entities have for me. My grandmother still wants to see me as a biologist working on resolving famine, my grandfather wants to be making connecting with rich Americans above everything else, my mother wants me to finish my Vanderbilt degree, my father wants me to get kids asap, etc. Each of them tells me that it is something that would be best for me. However, as I wrote in this post on selfish systems, each of them is pursuing their personal interest, even if it’s done with a good intention.

Involuntarily, we somewhat play into these roles pre-defined by the desired and unrealized dreams of people around us. Although I want to hear what they are telling me, I cannot blindly listen to them. Because otherwise, I would simply inherit their world-views and the complementary biases, thus never making real mind-shifts and progress.

So I made the decision to always hear what others are telling me, but never listen to them without checking in on how that piece of information/advice/etc. fits into my narrative of life.

Eugène Delacroix, “Liberty Leading the People,” 1830

What is persistence of vision?

People like Karin and Coen, a lot of entrepreneurs and innovators are brilliant examples of what I mean by persistence of vision. Those people have a certain specific idea for how their life, an industry, a company should be and they are religiously persistent in realizing that vision, despite disagreement from others, uncertainty, length of the path and the difficulty (assuming that the goal is doable). Because to bring about something new into the world, such as a lifestyle, a company or an idea, one needs to persist through the inertia of doubters, haters, and non-believers. Of course it goes without saying, that the examples we see are the ones who disagreed with the convention and were right ;)

It is very hard to not give in to those authoritative voices of the society and people who have an emotional impact on us. An emotion that is capable of overriding those fears is a sense of responsibility towards realizing one’s true talent to deliver the most value possible to the world.

People around me don’t see me for who I am and who I am capable of becoming. They see me for who they want to see me. If I rely on that vision of myself as the direction for my life, I will never achieve my true potential. To reach the full expression of myself, I need to not listen to anyone and persist with my vision of how things should be.

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