Why are strangers more excited about your idea than your own friends?
By Tobias van Schneider
Have you ever noticed strangers are more receptive and excited about your ideas than your own family or friends? Maybe you feel like you have to pitch harder to your close circles than anyone else, or that your close friends don't take you seriously enough.
I'm not trying to be dramatic here. But chances are your family or close friends might not be as excited as you about your new business or art project. The closer they are to you, the more likely this rings true.
Of course, there are exceptions. If you are one, lucky you. If you're not the exception, that doesn't mean you have bad friends or a bad family.
I rarely quote from the Bible, but this is too fitting: "No prophet is accepted in his home town."
People closest to you tend to be those you've known the longest. The longer they've known you, the more they know about you. Your strengths, weaknesses and shortcomings. They've seen you grow and have formed a specific image of you in their heads. That perception is based on who you are but also on their own insecurities, which is a natural human thing to do. We all form our judgments this way.
When you suddenly become "a prophet," they may have difficulty honoring or respecting this radical change. It doesn't match up with the picture in their heads. "I've known little Timmy since he pooped his pants. He's a prophet now? That's so cute!"
For little Timmy to become Prophet Tim, he has to abandon his nest and leave town. Far away where his words and ideas will be taken seriously and he won't be little Timmy anymore.
"Eventually, we become drowned in love, unable to define ourselves and pursue our own ideas."
While you and I might not aim to be a modern prophet, the same concept applies to who we are and who we want to be. Your friends and family might support you emotionally (after all, they love you) but they may not be the first to contribute to your Kickstarter. They might think this is another fleeting hobby.
Subconsciously, this dynamic is destructive to our future self. Our family and close friends are our most important assets. We love them and we seek their approval. Yet at the same time, we know they might be held back by their own unfulfilled dreams, worries or simply just protective feelings toward us.
But while we keep seeking their approval, we're entering a destructive circle. We never feel good enough and our own insecurities grow by the day. Eventually, we become drowned in love, unable to define ourselves and pursue our own ideas.
It's the reason why people often say, "If you want a promotion, quit your job." If you started somewhere as an intern, you'll be the intern forever. Of course, there are exceptions, but there is some truth behind it.
It's the reason why some people reach their full potential once they move to a new city, away from their loved ones. Or why some musicians become wildly popular in a country that isn't their own.
Once we redefine ourselves, we may also suddenly get recognized by those we tried so hard to convince years earlier.
I suppose I'm writing this is for one reason: Don't try so hard to get your family & close friends excited about your project. They'll support you with the capacity that is available to them. Take anything you can get, but don't expect anything more. Their love might not manifest itself in being the first supporter of your new business venture, but they might be the 100th customer.
Once they recognize your new self, they'll be your biggest fan.
Hi, I'm Tobias, a German designer living in New York. I'm the author of this blog, nice to meet you!