selective-ignorance-bike-thb

The summer air in California at 10:30 at night is quite refreshing. When the stars are out it beckons you to dream. Nostalgia enters and I remember all the things I wanted to be when I was younger. All the thing I wanted to make, the things I wanted to do, the places I wanted to travel to.

Reaching up to the sky, palm facing outwards, fingers extended, about to take in a fistful of stars. You clench down on the Big Dipper, that big, bright star that your parents taught you about in the 3rd grade probably because it was also the only one they remembered. “The power is within grasp”, is what I was taught in my years when it was difficult to tie my own shoes.

“You can do anything you put your mind to.” That was THE mantra that echoed through my head during the years Bob Ross, Reading Rainbow, Sesame Street, and Secret City was all I watched. The good days when advice was broad and generally motivating.

“You have to go out there and do what people want.”

This was the unwarranted advice, spewing out of the mouth of a forty-something lady who owns and operates two sandwich shop franchises, about how to make it in the music industry. As we sit outside on her back patio of her seven bedroom estate overlooking a pretty, nicely-trimmed golf course, which is still horrible for putting if you want your ball to go straight, we debate over profits, fans, marketing, genre, sounds, merchandising and whatever else for three-plus hours.

Leave it to the rich to know everything about everything. It seems most wealthy people I’ve met seem to know the secret to everything in life, whether or not they’ve done it themselves. Maybe, it’s the huge pool that distracted me, or the two Benz’ in the driveway, with one Corolla, that distracted me from logic and pushed down what common-sense I had into the deepest depths of my psyche.

Status symbols fool you. They reek of bragging rights and arrogance and I’m not opposed to either one because god-willing, when I get rich, I WILL buy an Aston Martin DB9 with manual transmission and purposely stall in a 4-lane intersection exclaiming I can’t drive stick. Guy buys expensive car and can’t drive it… how obnoxious is that? He,he,he.

And the rich aren’t the only ones who know how to make it. The brokest of the broke will have master plans to being successful in any field. Fat people will give you dieting tips and those pesky network marketing folks will give you fifty principles of truth on financial freedom. Yes, I used to be one of those, and the first few months, you feel like you know everything there is to know about making money, then the long hours of nothingness start… and silence.

This all sounds like a phenomenon simply stated as the Bike-Shed Effect made famous by C. Northcote Parkinson. To sum it up goes like this:

Most people won’t have discussions about building an atomic reactor because of the complex nature of the thing, yet most will have something to say about building a bike-shed because they assume the complexity of building a bike-shed is smaller and will argue vastly on even what color the shed should be.

The simpler something seems, the more opinions there will be on it. This is where we need to learn to cut the noise. Cultivate a little ignorance.

THANKS, BUT NO THANKS

I’m sure everybody is an expert at something. I’m also sure everybody you meet will have a strong opinion on something you care very much about. I have this thing about receiving advice: If it doesn’t feel right to me, I’m not doing it. It’s that simple.

They’ll say things like you need to take a different direction, or you should use this protocol or rant off some clichéd saying like: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. No offense, Einstein.

I’m assuming you’ve done your homework and already have a path you’re walking right now, so give them an acknowledging nod, maybe thank them, and then be off your merry way. I don’t allow anyone to knock me from my path, especially if it’s a path I’m currently traveling and haven’t had the experience yet to know what works or not.

Allow me to make my own mistakes. I feel like the teenager who just wants to go out there and discovery things on his own. The rebel.

I WILL take advice, if I’m actively searching for it, or if I’m asking, but if I’m set… nah, I’m good, but thank you.

###
IMAGE: Wen Cheng Liu