LIfe

It’s the People *Not* like Us That Make Us Grow

Tim Denning questions the world.

Photo by Elle Cartier on Unsplash

The dishes fell to floor when I heard this quote.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks said “It’s the people not like us that make us grow.” This is an uncomfortable thought. We spend our entire lives looking for people just like us so we can feel like we belong.

If you’re religious then hanging around an atheist seems “dangerous.” If you worship entrepreneurship then hanging around a lifelong 9–5 worker who is happy may seem stupid. The thing is you don’t need more people telling you what you want to hear to keep your ego satisfied. You need to disrupt your thinking entirely to grow.

Reconfirming your beliefs is an indulgence

Hanging around people just like you is similar to being addicted to a junk food diet. You indulge on their sugar-filled opinions because they make you feel comfortable. It takes guts to challenge your beliefs. It takes confidence to admit in public that what you believed a year ago is wrong.

I used to jam self-help 4 AM wakeup calls down people’s throats. Now I do that a lot less. My belief that everybody should wake up at 4 AM was wrong. I only realized this delusion after taking a break from self improvement books and reading about normal people who are conscious of what their habits are.

Social media is full of people who want to back up their own beliefs. Hearing their beliefs shouted back at them in the form of picture quotes makes them feel like they’re living their best life.

I don’t believe in hearing my own beliefs retold to me. I want to hear radical opinions — because I know that most of us, including me, are full of shit. We lie to ourselves every day and call it “other people’s problems.”

Society won’t prosper unless we dare to challenge our beliefs.

Add people to your life who are opposites

My girlfriend is the opposite of me. She is highly analytical and enjoys knowing every single detail. I hate getting too far into the detail and debating over whether the computer screen is 27-inch or technically 27.1-inch. I’m happy with any inch of screen because many people who live in poverty don’t know what it’s like to even have a screen to call their own.

My former boss who became one of my best friends is the complete opposite of me. He was born into Indian culture and lived on a plantation. He believes in the simple stuff.

He shares simple Buddhist philosophies, and thinks running through forests is the greatest sport in history (he calls these runs “forest showers). I learned through him that money is ridiculous in the scheme of things. Life will flash before your eyes and money won’t slow time down. Being present is a huge deal — and he worships being present.

As you add people to your life who think completely the opposite thoughts to you, you start to see that actually we’re all much more similar than we think we are. This insight shows you that even the person you deem to be the worst person in the world — like someone facing the death penalty for murder — is only about 2%-3% different from you. They have maybe one or two neurological wires plugged into the wrong sockets compared to you.

Any one of us can go from normal to psycho with just the flip of a switch and 2–3 tragedies all occurring in a short space of time.

It’s for this reason why I have spent time with homeless people, interviewed heroin addicts, spoken to writers with less than 10 followers, and met people from extremely different cultures to mine — Iran, Afghanistan, Indonesia, etc.

You probably don’t need more people in your life exactly like you, who reinforce your perfect vision for how life should be exactly the way you see it.

Your vision has blind spots.

People just like you will hide you from your biases

Imagine if I just hung around people like me. I’d be surrounded by dudes who type on laptops, make money from the internet, didn’t go to a prestigious university, are obsessed with social media, and go to Tony Robbins events.

Can you see how that would be dangerous? We all have biases and we’re often not aware of them. The only way to see your biases is to have people who are not your friends show them to you and question your view of the world.

Interest groups can be dangerous.

They become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If everybody in a writing group, for example, believes that blogging is dead, then when you hear that idea enough times you start to believe it. But blogging isn’t dead. Blogging is only dead to people who hang around writers who feel dead because they focus on views, ‘likes’ and how much money they have earned.

See your biases, and you’ll see a growth opportunity that can change your life.

Your thoughts of what is possible become bigger

There is always a way to think bigger. The challenge is you need people not like you to show you.

When I think about my life, I believe I think big. But compared to people who are building rocket ships that will take us to Mars one day my thinking is tiny. I imagine making Earth a better place. There are people amongst us who are constructing homes to be placed on other planets. There are people who are trying to save Earth from climate change and then there are people who think we will eventually need to change planets.

Your thinking might be big in your eyes, but your thinking can always be even bigger. Finding people who have bigger ideas than your own will make you grow. Starting a business can look ridiculously small in the face of contemplating a galaxy where Earth is full of 1% of the species that have ever roamed the universe.

Bigger ideas than your own are powerful.

Escape your bubble world

It’s time to escape the bubble you’ve been living in. All of us live in a bubble of some form. And that bubble holds us back from discovering new possibilities in our life that help us grow.

If you find yourself screaming at your computer screen and saying “that’s not fair” or “these people should be…” then you could be stuck in a bubble. The world doesn’t mimic your image of it.

You have to get out there and meet people who spit in the face of your beliefs and are happy to make you angry.

Bubbles eventually pop. And when your bubble pops it won’t be pretty, but it will make you question everything. Questioning everything is how you level-up and go beyond blaming and complaining.

Blaming and complaining won’t change the world. Getting out of your bubble and being around radically different people will.

Seek out people who utterly hate your view of the world.

Give permission for your world view to change, even if you don’t like it, or it feels uncomfortable. That’s when you grow and make the most of the time you have left to do something meaningful.

Tim Denning
Tim is a thought leader in the personal development, entrepreneur and startup fields.Outside of blogging, Tim works for a large organisation helping fast moving technology companies come to Australia as well as helping Australian tech companies go to the world.

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