Box of Crayons Blog


Great Work is Counter-Cultural. (So who are you irritating?)

Great Work is Counter-Cultural. (So who are you irritating?)


“All truth passes through three stages.
First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”


The real starting point

Schopenhauer is on to something here, even if the first stage is more accurately “it is roundly ignored by everyone.”

If you’re up to Great Work – work that matters, work that makes a difference, work that you care about – then you’ll be spending some quality time in Stage One or Stage Two. Don’t hold your breath for Stage Three any time soon.

7 strategies to deal with the rejection

1. Get clear on the Why. If you’ve got a strong connection to the big picture about why this matters, you’ve got fuel.

2. Hold it tightly. Double down and understand what “full commitment” looks like in this case. It can be a high risk strategy, but sometimes you have to push all your chips into the centre of the table.

3. Hold it lightly. Yes, be committed to the project. But also know that it may not work. Hold on too tight, and you’ll find it impossible to let it go.

4. Gather allies outside. Friends who can give you some perspective, even if that perspective is based entirely on them being your friend and on your side no matter what.

5. Gather allies inside. It doesn’t matter if most people are turning you down if the right people are on your side.

6. Go undercover. Do it secretly, on the sly. Work under cover of darkness. The fewer people that know about it, the fewer can resist.

7. Give up. Sometimes, it’s not meant to be. In the terrific book The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, Oliver Burkeman talks about how goals can turn self-destructive if we pursue them at all costs. (Watch out for an interview with him coming soon.)

What works for you?

When you’re doing something that feels like zigging when others are zagging, it can wear you down. How do you keep your mojo going?

One Response to Great Work is Counter-Cultural. (So who are you irritating?)

  • Karen

    Love this, especially the question, “who are you irritating?”. Unfortunately for me, it happens to be my boss. 🙂

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