Everyone Knows Something You Don’t


Everyone Knows Something You Don’t

Ask my mother’s side of the family how my life is going and they’d tell you they feel sorry for me. That they wish I would just “snap out of it” and listen to them because they know better.

I dropped out of college in the middle of my third semester and I don’t intend on ever getting a corporate job. I lived outside the US for a year, confusing my family because they don’t understand why anyone would desire to live outside “the best country in the world.”

Ask my entrepreneurial friends how my life is going and they’ll tell you they wish they had started on this journey as early as I have. They’ll tell you I’m lucky and that I’m headed in the right direction.

Two completely different opinions.

One from a side that champions social status and wealth over personal satisfaction and freedom.

The other is a mixed bag that my family wouldn’t understand.

I was talking about this to someone who is an international best seller. He has spoken at two TEDx conferences, was interviewed on multiple national news channels, and has been featured on National Geographic. All these accomplishments and he STILL gets questioned by his family about when he’ll quit goofing off and get a traditional job.

Stories like these aren’t unique. Almost every nomad I meet in Asia has the same tale. Family and friends don’t understand what they’re doing, think they’re crazy, etc. Some are fortunate enough to have supporters from back home (I’m grateful for my dad’s side of the family trusting in my decisions.)

And it’s no one’s fault.

We mostly get small peeks through a window that offers a limited view into someone’s life. With that, we form opinions that don’t truly capture the individual’s motivations.

We don’t get to see everyone’s behind-the-scenes.

We’re missing pieces of everyone’s stories and don’t even realize our own potential ignorance.

With this in mind, I try to treat everyone with respect because I have no idea what amazing lessons they have to teach me.

Everyone’s a teacher.

Everyone knows something you don’t.

Sometimes their lessons won’t be applicable and hell, sometimes they’ll be flat out wrong.

But what if they’re right?

If you remind yourself that you might be missing the bigger picture then you will respect everyone you meet and hopefully walk away with something you didn’t know before.

In my case, I had my mind open when I first stumbled upon a conversation about location independence. Luckily, I kept digging until I learned enough to want it too.

Now, exactly a year has passed since I first landed overseas.

Keep your mind open. Try to pick up more pieces from others.

You have no idea what you might be missing.

Vincent Nguyen

Photo Credit: Kevin Dooley – Flickr & Mike V. for the awesome Pride Rock photo

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Vincent Nguyen is the author of Self Stairway and founder of Growth Ninja, a digital marketing agency that specializes in Facebook Ads. Voted "Most Guapo" five years in a row (lost during 6th year to a hand model.)

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12 responses to Everyone Knows Something You Don’t

  1. I was explaining to my Dad what I was doing yesterday and he just looked kind of confused… a bit jealous, but mostly confused. Why would someone who spent 7+ years in Engineering school decide to write books, courses, and a blog about self-improvement instead?

    But for me I’m a super happy camper and looking forward to moving to Asia – maybe we’ll run in to each other ;).

    One of my best friends has an ideology that he lives by, where he’ll take advice from ANYONE. Of course, he puts it through his intuition and mind first, but even if a homeless guy offers him one line or piece of advice that changes his life… isn’t it worth it? A few of my friends have thrown me suggestions that seemed INCREDIBLY simple and obvious to them, but I would have never guessed or thought of them… and I’ve benefited dramatically.

    I think it’s all a part of being open-minded, and trying to treat everyone equally.

    As “When I Say No, I Feel Guilty” would say – You are the ultimate judge of you, and most people fail in arguments because they try and convince the other person of their viewpoint.

    You’ll never win.

    The only way to win is a compromise, and mutual respect of each other’s opinions. Once you stop trying to convince others to agree with you… I’ve felt that things get a lot better :).

    So you, your friends, your Mom’s family, and your Dad’s family… everyone is all right.

    But only one opinion matters in the end ;).

  2. You inspired me as usual. .

  3. Hey Vincent,

    Another thing happens when we don’t keep an open mind: people stop telling us personal stuff about their lives.

    For example, I have a friend who is 44. He and his wife are retiring at the end of this year. Because his family would not understand why he would give up a great job to just “wander the world,” he didn’t tell them of his plans until after he told his boss he was retiring. They still don’t believe that he is really retiring. They are waiting for him to change his mind.

    He is excited about his future and the adventures that await him and his wife as they begin traveling the world… frugally… with an open mind… expecting to meet people from all over the world and learning from strangers every day.

    • Heh, totally true. I don’t talk to my mom’s side about anything I do anymore. No point in it unless I want to go down the same rabbit hole as always. I avoid the conversation entirely.

  4. Spot on. You are wise beyond your age Vincent.
    I admire your skill to transform your every day situations into deep reflections.

    BTW, Jim Rohn said the exact thing about listening to others in Cultivating The Unshackable Character. You are in good company.

  5. Tell me what you know. How else are we going to reach our life’s realization. I just want to meet you when you return.

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