5 Lessons On How Not To Let Others Try To Run Or Ruin Your Life

Sometimes the only way you can begin to offer tips on how to do or not do something is to start with a story. This is one of those times, and I hope you hang in through the story so we can get to the tips.

Creative Commons License Vinoth Chandar via Compfight

On Facebook at the beginning of the week I came across an image that someone had put up. The image shows a black woman and a white woman next to each other, although in two different pictures. Both pictures were mugshots, and both of the women had been arrested for some kind of child abuse.

The child abuse the black woman did was to leave a six-year-old and a two-year-old child in the car while she went into an establishment to interview for a new job. The child abuse the white woman did was to be stoned, drive her car down the road with her six month old baby in the baby carrier on top of the car. At some point the baby carrier fell off the car and into the street.

Both of these women lived in the same state, Arizona, one in Phoenix and one in Scottsdale. If you’ve ever been there, you know it’s pretty much the same city. What happened to the black woman is that she’s going to trial and had her children taken away from her. What happened to the white woman is that she got probation and got to go home with her child.

It’s possible that there are extenuating circumstances, but on the surface it looks like obvious racism. Obviously the two different judges didn’t see things the same way, and that’s an indictment on the justice system.

Everybody who reads this blog may not know that along with speaking on the topic of leadership, which is highlighted by the book to the left called Embrace The Lead, I also speak on diversity topics. I have spoken on racial diversity, succession planning, and the rights of women in the workplace and sexual abuse. I happen to be one of those people who, when I see issues that have to do with “isms”, I will comment on them in some fashion, even if my only comment is passing along what I’ve seen.

Thus, when I saw this picture I decided to share with folks who I’m connected to. I didn’t add any extra commentary to it, but I thought it was important enough to share.

I happen to be quite liberal in my politics, but I have a few friends on Facebook who are more conservative. One of the ladies who responded had a point of view that I could take into account and think she might be right. The other lady however… well, she decided to tell me that I shouldn’t be sharing things like that and that all I am doing is stoking the flames of racism because I’m always talking about it.

The world always looks brighter from behind a smile :-)
Rakesh JV via Compfight

One of the rules of talking about diversity is that you can’t be afraid to bring up topics that some people might not want to talk about. Many people get uncomfortable when you talk about these things, and for whatever reason they can’t keep their mouths shut and just roll with the punches. Instead, they feel the need to try to justify themselves by inserting their opinions, which are always counter to the other opinions, and showing themselves for what they are.

That might sound harsh, but it is what it is. Not everybody who has a differing opinion expresses themselves in the same way. I like to think that for the most part when I have a differing opinion I choose my words carefully so that we can at least debate an issue without it becoming overly divisive; doesn’t always happen I’ll admit.

That didn’t happen in this case. One of the things I don’t cotton to is having anybody tell me what I should or should not do, especially if I didn’t ask them, and if I feel they have no idea what they’re talking about. I didn’t make it into my mid 50’s just so people can condescend to me. Anybody telling me what I can or cannot share in my own space is going to hear from me, and maybe a bit more vociferously than I need to be.

In this case, after I responded to her, she decided to go on a diatribe and say that I had no right to say anything if I wasn’t doing anything to try to change things. Once again, even though this is someone I’ve known for a long time, she obviously had no idea of the types of things I’ve done in my life and do now. I expressed that in my response to her, as well as asked her if any of the things I have experienced in my life that proved that there was racism in this country meant nothing to her and that they shouldn’t mean anything to me.

Her response was to say that obviously I was dismissing her and that we couldn’t be friends anymore. Then she decided to leave me a private message to tell me how disappointed she was in me and my promotion of racism. I have to admit I was expecting it, and I almost dropped her a month ago for the same type of thing; oh well…

Peter Michaels
Viewminder via Compfight

I let her have the last word because she’s someone from another country who had a horrible experience at one point in her life, came to the United States and made a nice life for herself. She obviously has no idea exactly what racism is in America and how people like me and people in my situation don’t have the opportunity to be racist towards anybody in the United States. If you don’t believe me just go look it up for yourself.

As a point of reference, I would love for you to check out this story I told many years ago I my business blog about an encounter I had while having a witness, who never believed me when I told her about racism I encountered, saw it for herself, titled Am I An Invisible Man. Sometimes racism isn’t quite as subtle as it seems to be.

In any case, this leads us to five lessons I’d like to give you on what not to let people tell you what to do on your blogs or in your life. I need to offer a caveat, that being if you’re reading a blog or an article that’s giving you suggestions on how to live your life better, that’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is if you’re having a one-on-one conversation with someone, whether it’s in person or via e-mail or any other medium, and you didn’t ask for their opinion.

Now, if someone’s giving you an opinion because your life is going down the toilet, that’s another caveat, but in a way you might have asked that advice. In general terms, these are five lessons, or five things you shouldn’t let people tell you what to do.

1. Don’t let anyone tell you what to write on your blog. Last year I wrote the post about a friend of mine who was being bullied about her blog; I had her back.

I’ve given people advice on this blog over the years on the types of topics they may not want to address if they don’t want to deal with controversy. That’s general advice to the masses, not specifically directed at any particular individual. Write on anything you want to write on, as long as you’re willing to deal with the consequences.

Bossman Goes Down!
Viewminder via Compfight

2. Don’t let anyone tell you who to be friends with, or who to hang out with. I’m very picky on who I allow myself to call a friend, and I’m that way for a reason.

To me, a friend is someone I have something in common with who I can pretty much talk about anything with. A friend allows me to be me and allows me to have other friends and other interests. The friend doesn’t control what you do or what you do with others unless you ask them for advice. Those are people who don’t want you to be anything except what they want you to be, and none of us needs to be with people like that.

This lady was never a friend but a nice acquaintance. I actually met her in person when I was in Florida for a conference. If I won’t take that from anyone I consider as a friend, why would I take it from anyone else?

3. Don’t let anyone who hasn’t already succeeded at something or even tried and not succeeded give you advice on what to do unless you want to learn what not to do. One of the most common themes I see on a lot of blogs is where the writer talks about mentioning to someone else that they wanted to either work for themselves or wanted to try blogging for a living, and how the other person put them down for their dream. You can believe that none of those people who put them down ever even read a blog, let alone tried to write one.

There are times when all of us asks the wrong person for advice about something they have absolutely no clue about. Most of the time their advice is negative because those folks don’t have any experience with it, and have no idea how to support you when you present certain things to them. Even if they’re trying to let you down nicely, their words aren’t ever helpful.

I tend to believe there are people who can give you advice on almost any topic and not kill your dreams because they have common sense knowledge. I also believe that a lot of people don’t look to those folks, and instead look to someone who they hope is going to put down their dream because they’re not confident enough in themselves already.

Don’t do that to yourself. You may not be able to do everything you want to for one reason or another, but you can probably do pretty well, especially if you research, invest the time, and give it the very best you can.

By the way, you’ll often hear motivational speakers talk about “failure” or failing. People only fail if they quit too early. Everything else is an experiment; you try things, then you try again if they didn’t work how you wanted them to work. A change in perspective can be a strong thing.

4. Don’t let people hold you down by finding ways to keep you from going for your dreams. The other day I did a video, which I’m going to include below, where one of the things I said is that you don’t have to give up your friends in order to succeed. However, you might have to change your behaviors with some of those friends who don’t offer you support in trying to better yourself or achieve your dreams.

If you do end up dropping some of your friends, realize that it’s not your fault that things are changing, because a true friend would wish nothing but the best for you and try to help you get there in whatever way possible that they could, including giving you time and space to work on your dream.

5. Although this is difficult, try not to get caught up in someone else’s drama. The other day on Facebook, I could have gotten vicious and really made things ugly across the board. However, I didn’t want to do that because I didn’t want to continue making everybody else uncomfortable.

As you’ve seen on this blog, overall I’m a pretty positive kind of guy. There are people who will be negative no matter what the issue is. Sometimes their negativity can affect you, and it’s never in a positive way. Sometimes it’s directed at you, sometimes it’s not. But it always drains you, takes away a part of your soul, and that’s no way to live.

When drama is a consistent thing, you need to take stock of your life and decide if you want to feel bad, if you can handle someone else’s drama and be there for them, or if you need to step away and work on yourself. When it’s intentional drama and you keep getting caught up in it… I just can’t imagine that anyone can be happy with that for long.

If there’s a person among you who’s content with an unhappy life, I wish you well. If you have dreams and inspirations, don’t let the proverbial “man” keep you down. Get help, get motivated, get planning, get moving, and get it done.

Whether it’s blogging, life, love or dessert (hey, someone had to say it), live life your way. If you need help doing it… just read some of this again, or watch one of my motivational videos.

And while you’re at it, check out the one below:



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28 comments on “5 Lessons On How Not To Let Others Try To Run Or Ruin Your Life

  • Wow this was a long one Mitch but worth it. I highly recommend everyone read it completely. Good stuff here.
    I saw that picture and story the other day to and I was shocked. First because of what these so called mothers did and second because after I noticed their skin color that irked me even more.
    I think most of us are racist. It is just a matter of whether we act on it. That to me is the difference. Also it doesn’t have to be a black / white thing or an American / Armenian thing. It is possible to not like sections of our own race. But is that ‘racism’ now or is that ‘prejudice’? Technicalities… Anyway…
    This week has been difficult for me. I have spent a bit of time trying to figure out who my friends are and dropping the fake friends. Hang out with me for a day and you will know I am a giver. Ask me a favor and I am quick to jump and help you. Yet I ask a simple favor of those same people, like go to my blog and leave a comment, and all I get is crickets. “Hey can you proofread my six page short story for me?” “Hey can you pick me up from work today?” Yet all I hear is crickets when I need something. Gotta drop those moochers right?
    Some one said it long ago but I just heard it for the first a few weeks ago from Joshua Fields Millburn from The Minimalist when he said to me- “You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you.”
    Troy recently posted…#957 The Princess BrideMy Profile

    • On your first topic, there are 3 terms: racism, bigotry and prejudice. Racism is related to power, and in this country minorities overall don’t have the power to be racists. It could happen in pockets but overall, no. But every person could possibly be bigoted or prejudiced; I don’t agree that everyone is.

      As for friends, you saw my position on that one. However, I will say that one should also know well those people they call friends and not put them in tough situations. Asking people to comment on a blog when they’re not used to even reading them is tough one. On my other blog years ago I wrote a very long post thanking people, then let them all know about it. Few of them checked it out. At the time I thought it was strange, but later I realized that just wasn’t their thing.

  • Natalie Gordon says:

    Liked this very sensible post. I was Facebook friends with an in-law distant relative and one day he posted about a group he had joined promoting gun control. I responded with some of my general reservations on the topic but ended by saying this group he was promoting looked sane and I could support it. He responded with a long screed calling me a reactionary right wing nut job who should stop watching FOX because I didn’t know what I was talking about and it was poisoning my mind, and I should just shut up because nothing I said had any value. I was initially really hurt because of this but after discussing it with me husband I unfriended and blocked his cousin. It is one thing to disagree with someone respectfully but when you are told nothing you have to say has value and you should just shut up, this person is not worth associating with.

    • That had to be disappointing to deal with Natalie. Moreso, from a relative, distant or not. I think it’s unrealistic to think everyone I’m connected to will agree with 100% of my beliefs, but if those I consider friendly towards me are going to condescending or talk to me in a manner I don’t like, I’m giving some back and then we’ll see where it goes from there. You did the right thing; I need to be quicker at doing that. Who wants that in their lives right?

  • Fabulous post Mitch. Long, worth reading and goes against the constant advice I’ve been given ie “never write a long post” … there are times when they NEED to be long.

    Great final advice too: “If you have dreams and inspirations, don’t let the proverbial “man” keep you down. Get help, get motivated, get planning, get moving, and get it done.”

    *sigh it’s a bit of advice a relative of mine could do with rather than constantly whinging about her job, but sometimes I think people need to hit rockbottom before they’re willing to change.

    • Thanks Sue. I know quite a few people who just can’t seem to get off the treadmill of woe unfortunately. Sometimes I feel I work as hard with friends as I do with clients on changing mindsets and actually believing that better things can come. It’s not easy but goodness, sometimes breathing isn’t easy either.

      As for length of posts… well, I write what I write and if it’s short or long, it’s what it had to be. I think niche blogs or business blogs don’t always work well when trying to teach quick lessons. That’s why I’m glad this blog isn’t that. Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

    • Prerna, there are times when we all feel a bit bullied. I’m lucky in that it was rare where I felt it because you have to care what others are saying or doing and I didn’t care what anyone was saying and had enough friends so I didn’t have to worry what others might try to physically do. I also had a bit of ruthless in me, something my dad taught me; if one has to play dirty sometimes… lol

  • Racism is the crime for which their ain’t any trials as most of them are committed by the officials.

    The example you mentioned clearly shows that there have been a racist decision been made.

    The beauty of racism is that one might never experience it while one will go through it daily.

    I take my liberty to write the things I love and share it to the world. After all my blog is my space and I won’t let anyone decide what shows up in my blog.

    Cheers to you. Keep writing, keep sharing.
    rohan recently posted…A Poem of CalmnessMy Profile

    • Rohan, it’s amazing how often it happens in this country, but other reasons are given for the behavior. I really don’t think everything is racism but a lot of it is, and I think it’s important to call out bad behavior whenever it shows its ugly head.

  • I have deliberatedly kept away from commenting on the two photo posts on fb that have appeared on more than a few occasions as this is a very real problem in a different context in my part of the world also. The unfair treatment of the “other” is universal and I believe that discussing it in a public forum is uncomfortable for many people. On the other hand, change can come only if we bring these things out in the open. Quite a conundrum.

    About being successful, I shall send you something by mail to lighten up the topic.
    Rummuser recently posted…A Cuckoo In The Nest.My Profile

    • I’ll be looking for it Ramana (actually I think I have it, and will check things out after my comment).

      You’re right, there are a lot of topics that can be uncomfortable for many people. Truthfully, I’ve never worried about the discomfort of a topic, but I’ve avoided topics that I realize I don’t know a lot about. I might have an opinion but I really don’t have the background to comment on everything. Often I think that’s a blessing and a great reason to never run for president. Having to fake knowing everything… it hurts my brain thinking about it. 🙂

  • Ryan Biddulph says:

    Mitch, I loved your tips. As for the racism, we can cure the world through love….I feel if we love each other more, justice and karma will have its day 😉 You gotta be you and do things you enjoy doing to get over the fear of criticism.

    I received uber strong resistance at times for traveling around the world from friends and family members. I did it anyway. Although tough to grasp I couldn’t let my fear of criticism control me, and I didn’t, thank goodness 😉

    Awesome post. I Kingged it too, and voted you up to give you more traffic, and will share on my social networks.

    • Good for you Ryan; it looks like you had a lot of fun and success by following your own path. Trust me, I get it when sometimes a friend has a dream that I think they don’t have a shot at reaching, but I don’t rain on their dreams. Instead, I’ll try to give them perspective on what it might take to get there and then I back away. Of course, as I like to say, if they’re 5′ tall and around 50 years old and they want to play center on the Knicks, I might be a bit more blunt about their chances. lol

  • During the time of my career at travel and hospitality, I would say that I’ve met many difficult people. Just some people are always this way, have to complain for nothing, have to try to make everybody around angry for no reason. There is one other think 99.9n% of the people are wrong 99.99% of the time.
    We have discuss with you previously, I feel more and more often people lack common sense on basic things, maners, etc.. Your tips apply very well not just for blogs, but for any kinds of websites or real life situation.
    Kaloyan Banev recently posted…Crowdfunding Platform at WebmaisterProMy Profile

    • Thanks for your comment Carl. You’re right, there are some folks who thrive on misery and such, and that includes making others miserable to make themselves feel better. Whenever I’ve gotten upset I never take it out on the people trying to help me. But I’ll call out someone who seems to be finding ways to deliberately hurt or cheat me. Luckily it doesn’t happen all that often, and I hope these days it’s rare that it happens to you.

  • I like your thoughts, Mitch.

    I must say that your tips are powerful, fierce and pretty inspirational.

    We should not be afraid of racism, it’s already part of our life and the fact that we overcome it is such a victory.

    Not all the people are designed to like what you are doing, there may arise haters. But remember that we’re humans, and we’re not born to be perfect, nevertheless to be accepted.

    Do not allow anyone to control you, it’s your own life anyway, and it’s already out of their business.

    More powers!


    By the way, I found this post shared on kingged.com

    • Glad to see your comment Ann. We all have to stay true to who and what we are, but hopefully we’re not impeding others from wishing to do the same thing. And I work on being perfect every day; not going to get there but I’ve got high hopes. 🙂

  • Hi Mitch,

    Sorry for stopping in late, just been a little overwhelming and I’m glad I finally made it 🙂

    It’s tough to believe about the two women you mentioned and how they neglected their kids, even though it wasn’t on intention, and all that followed up thereafter. Yes, many of such controversies come up on social networking sites, especially Facebook. I prefer keeping away from them even though I might read and leave them – dread the never ending comments that follow up later, and honestly speaking, I am always falling short of time to stay online and get into such talks.

    However, when I share my posts on a few groups on Facebook and G+ communities, I have to deal with them if they relate or comment on my posts, which sometimes are a little that ways, but it’s ok as long as it’s a healthy conversation and shouldn’t really create problems with people. These things never stop and the topic of racism is a never ending one. I just hope there could be more of love, peace, togetherness and harmony in this world, making it a better place than what it is. But the change is something we all need to collectively work on, isn’t it?

    I loved your tips on how we shouldn’t allow others to ruin our lives and completely agree with them. Each to his or her own – live and let live! Yes, it’s your blog or your profile and you have the right to decide what you want to post, no one can tell you what to do or not. If there’s a suggestion or a difference of opinion, there is again a way of conveying it to the other person. I wish more people would understand this simple fact and just learn to be good with each other.

    Thanks for sharing, and have a nice week ahead 🙂
    Harleena Singh recently posted…The Aha!NOW Chat With Yaro Starak [Interview]My Profile

    • Thanks for your comments Harleena. I actually do avoid a lot of things I see on both Facebook and G+ but there are some topics where, if I don’t address them, I violate my own code of ethics, and that just won’t do. I try to give as much attention as I possibly can without going over the top, but as you know, sometimes your less than over the top is interpreted in a different way by someone else. Nothing to do about that.

      Glad you liked the tips as well. People need to be willing to stand up for themselves, especially in their own space. I hoep to get people to think about protecting their rights and their dreams.

  • Yes Mitch, exactly it was the care of people which made me go the way they wanted me to go, but somehow I realized later that care of some people was just a fake concern for me, in reality it was just their own selfish thoughts. Bdw I read many of your posts and liked most of them very much and the way you reply your readers with all concern is truly commendable.
    Prerna recently posted…BLUE SKY Eau De Parfum for Women ReviewMy Profile

  • Hey Mitch,

    I had seen that particular photo and read what happened but I didn’t see your particular conversation going on about it. I’m just going to be honest with you here, I don’t care to get caught up in other people’s crap.

    What I mean by that is I don’t know what happened pertaining to those women. I’m not going to jump to conclusions because one was black and one was white. We have just as much white trash in this world as we do any other color and more should get what they deserve but we all know that life is just not fair at times.

    To have someone argue with you about what you should or should not do is just crap, that’s what I meant. Had she done that to me I would have deleted her comment, sent her an email and then deleted her from my friends list. My goal in life is to surround myself with the people who think, feel and believe the way I do. I’m not going to waste my time arguing with idiots or bickering with someone whose views or totally opposite from mine. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a good conversation from time to time about our views but I just don’t have time for that and it’s not worth it to me.

    I’m a happy person because I surround myself with people who are a lot like me. I don’t enjoy being around drama, idiots or fools. There is a LOT in this world that needs to be changed and as it affects me personally I’ll step in and do my part. If it has nothing to do with me I’ll wish everyone well and go about my business. If that makes me a horrible person or totally ignorant of what’s going on so be it.

    I think you did the right thing though Mitch and you don’t need her as a friend on Facebook. I’m just sorry there are so many people out there with that way of thinking still. It’s just too bad.

    Adrienne recently posted…Thankful Thursday: Blog Promotion, Brand, STOP, DoFollow, LinksMy Profile

    • Thanks Adrienne. I’m usually quite a tolerant person, and my wife wishes I wasn’t so much when it comes to certain things. In this case I tried to defuse things and it failed, and that was that. I probably should have done what you said you’d do months earlier, as I was tired of seeing some of the negativity on Facebook. I’m like you, I’d rather have more happiness than misery most of the time. However, I have my times when I see something that’s overt that I just must share and call out. To me, to not follow through with it violates my moral compass. And you know how much I value that. 🙂

  • Beverly Mahone says:

    Yes, this was an EXTREMELY LONG POST Mitch (and OLD) but I stuck with it until the end because your points were spot on—Especially #3. We are living in a time where people are over-sensitive about EVERYTHING and while I do respect everyone’s opinion, I refuse to allow anyone to bully me on my own social media page or try to keep me from voicing my views. I’ve never been one to back down and I certainly have no intention of doing it in my 60s. Love this and re-tweeted it.

    • Love it Bev! I certainly won’t back down when it gets personal, and I’m apt not to back down when race is involved. The problem is some people haven’t learned how to shut up when things don’t concern them, then they get upset when they make it about them. Like you, I’m getting close to 60; I don’t have time for drama that didn’t have to be.


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