“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they will fight you, then you win.” – Gandhi
Gandhi had a lot of knowledge for the world, but this quote represents one of the best for athletes. There is so much truth to the statement. The lesson here is persistence, but to persist, you must have what it takes to get through these stages. It does not matter if you just want to make the team, want a starting position, a scholarship, or be the best to do it. You have to go through these stages Gandhi mentions. We see our path to our goals being a linear line with no detours and of course in perfect driving conditions. When in reality getting there you have to make it through a blizzard, a hurricane, an earthquake and dodge a tornado. You must persist until you win.
They Ignore You
Get ready for it! You set your mind on something big you want to accomplish. Deep inside you know that it was meant for you and though you are nowhere close you know you can get there. You tell your parents, they don’t say much, you tell a teacher they discourage you, your friends think you’re crazy, your date thinks you are unrealistic, and you turn to social media and get almost no likes and 0 comments. It is crushing to your ego because you realize no one cares about what you want to do.
The feeling you immediately get is maybe everyone else is right. We tend to assume the crowd is right which is why it is so hard to be a leader. It means you have to go venture out on your own when everyone is ignoring you. It is difficult, but only the strong can survive.
In high school when I first decided I wanted to get a scholarship, not many were with me. One of my favorite teachers told me I was unrealistic to think I could do it and she wanted to hear nothing else about it. When it came to being at school, I felt alone in my pursuits.
It is at this moment that the majority of people quit. It is too hard to feel ostracized from the group. For most people it is overwhelming to feel like your the crazy one, so you throw out your dream and long-term happiness for short-term love.
The other thing you have to remember is that the crowd is NOT always right. There are plenty of cases in history where the majority were 100% wrong, and people knew it, but they still followed simply because they were the majority. If you have a dream, live it out to the fullest. As you will see as you keep reading, the crowd will come around if you can hang on loud enough. When they do join you, it is time to change directions again.
They Laugh at You
You were hoping it would get better, weren’t you? Well, I got bad news, it gets WORSE! Before you hadn’t started working towards your new set goals. Now they see you working, and they think its hilarious. Now they tell everyone they know that you are insane enough to work.
Being ignored is lonely but being laughed at just hurts inside. It is not a good feeling when everyone is pointing the finger at you saying that you suck and they can’t believe how crazy you are. Look a bit closer though, and you will notice something else happening.
In high school, there will be a guy who will like a girl, and if that girl does not want him back, his response is often to make fun of her. Then other guys who also love her get scared of admitting their feelings for her, so they join in. Then you end up with a girl thinking she is ugly because a bunch of guys who like her doesn’t have the guts to go against the crowd and say so.
When you look at people laughing at you, the same sort of thing is happening. People wish that they could have the courage you have, but they just don’t. They don’t want to admit they want to be you, so its easier to laugh and reject you to feel better about themselves temporarily. If they admit you are powerful, they will have to also admit to being a coward.
You get through this stage by admitting that it is not going to be easy. One thing that hurts us more than anything else is expecting a smooth ride. The ride to greatness is not and never will be smooth. You will get beat up physically and emotionally on your way there. Part of that beating is being laughed at by people who wish they could do what you do.
They Fight You
If your goal were to take the starting spot, for example, you would have been ignored because everyone thought you had no chance. Then when you start working you get laughed at because deep down others wish they could work just as hard. Then they begin to fight you. They do anything they can to put obstacles in your way to make you quit.
At this point, you must understand that you are three feet from gold. If you can just hang on through the crap, you will be there. You have already been through so much so if you’re going to cry, don’t cry to give up, cry to keep going as Eric Thomas says.
The fight happens because now people are threatened. They see your work starting to pay off, and they are scared. They see you getting better, and they can see in your eye that you want it bad. You have them beat so they have to try and distract you to get you to stop doing what you’re doing.
Inside you start to feel like everyone is acting out so maybe they know something you don’t so you better give in but in reality, you are exposing everyone else. People know that if you overcome these challenges, they no longer have excuses as to why they can’t set and reach a big goal. Everything they believe and the image they have built for themselves is threatened.
During this stage, you will hurt the most. You will want to quit. You will wonder if it was all even worth it. Don’t stop because you are closer than ever.
Then You Win
All of sudden you reach the goal. Look to any pro franchise and you will notice how everyone supports a winner and no one likes to stand by losers. Well, you are about to see this shift first hand. All of a sudden the hate turns into love. Everyone wants to be in your presence and celebrate you for what you have accomplished. The same people who showed up at your door with pitchforks now want to be your best friend. Life is funny!
The great thing is you were never doing it for them anyway. You were working your butt off for yourself and because you knew you had more in you. Sadly if you set another goal, the entire process will most likely happen again, and you will have to bite, kick, and scratch to keep your head above water but it will be worth it.
Persist Until You Win The Gandhi Way