Parents are kind of like women; just when you think you know what they’re thinking, you find out you’re completely off.

I found this whole impressing parents thing to be pretty consistent among my friends at business school growing up.

I remember a particular conversation with one of them…

He explained to me how he almost dropped out of his program in second year because his grades were falling.

That when he realized he might upset them, he buckled down like no tomorrow.

Well, because in his mind, there might as well not have been.

The story has a happy ending, because he made it through the program. We had this conversation in our third year together, when we had both made it in.

What wasn’t so happy to me was the part of the ending where my friend is never going to go against what his parents want ever again.

He saw their wrath, and it scared him. ‘Never again,’ he says to himself. ‘I’ll just do what they want,’ he thinks.

This whole thing of trying to impress other people is one of life’s great paradoxes.

I mean, it’s as backwards as can be.

The truth is the most impressive to anyone is doing what you want to do really really well. But putting you first is scary. So you kid yourself, and try to impress others.

And you make this same mistake with your parents, with your friends, with women, with society.

Despite what they say, or what you have convinced yourself in your mind that they think

Your parents want you to be happy. They want you to do what you like to do.

Same with your friends. No, this doesn’t mean they will ever say this to you. They will drag you down to be like them, because we’re all afraid of being different (especially you!).

Deep down, what your friends really believe to be true is that you being you exactly how you want to be is what is going to make you both the happiest.

Women don’t want you to spend your whole life impressing them. You want to disappoint a woman? Ask her what she wants you to do. To take it one step further, try apologizing any time you act without her approval.

My friend describes being in his masculine as being a ‘master of time and space’. Trying to impress your woman all the time isn’t being a master of anything, it’s being a servant to what you think you should be.

And the same could be said about your family, your friends, and even society as a whole.

If you were to have a society without friction, everyone would do as their told. There wouldn’t be any crime. There wouldn’t be any push-back on the way things are.

And it would be the most boring society

in this history of ever.

See, all the good stuff comes up when you stop impressing people.

It comes when you go against the grain and see what it’s like to impress yourself for a change.

Because at the end of the day, if you’re really honest with yourself…

Do you really think you can read other people’s minds?

Do you really think you have a better idea of what’s going on in their heads than they do?

And if you were to flip roles, to try for a second how you might view your kids, friends, your man, or your ‘servants’ in your society.

If you were to really think about it, to really step in their shoes… what would make these people the best?

Doing what you want them to do?

Or doing what they want to do?

I have two more stories for your today. One of a friend, and another of an old myth.

My friend, he is much older than the one we talked about earlier..He is well out of university, or, in his case actually, high school.

And this man has a great fear that keeps him impressing his parents. His mother, more specifically.

He’s still living with her, despite his friends pushing him to move out.

And he is still without a job, despite their continued support in him getting one.

He knows that breaking away from his mother in such significant ways would most certainly not impress her.

Thus, he is but a victim to an illusion.

In the old myth of Iron John, the King sends search party after search party for whatever keeps men from coming back from the woods.

After many men die, he calls in a special knight, who loses his dog to a hand that comes out of the lake and grabs it.

This knight and his helper drains the lake, bucket by bucket, only to find a hairy, wild beast of a man who is iron in colour.

Iron John is captured and brought to the court of the kingdom. There he is kept in a cage where he won’t eat any more of the kings men.

One day, the king’s boy is playing with a golden ball and it bounces into the cage. Iron John tells the boy he will give the boy his ball back if he lets him out of the cage.

The boy says he can’t do this, since he doesn’t know where the key is. Iron John tells him, “it’s under your mother’s pillow.”

Now, in the story, the boy manages to get the key, only to be stuck in a moment of fear after opening the cage. Paraphrased from here below:

“Oh no!” he says. “If they see that you’re gone when they come home, they’ll beat me!”

The wild man then says, “So come with me into the forest. You’ll never see your parents again, but I have lots of riches, more than you’ll ever need.”

The boy decides to go into the forest with the wild man, leaving his parents forever.

Stopping impressing your parents and starting impressing yourself is terrifying. Many end their lives never having ventured from this cage of safety.

You have every right to be scared of what’s new, what’s different. You should be. With new territory comes risk.

The risk that isn’t as obvious is the boy spending his entire life without his golden ball. The boy knows his parents will beat him, but does he know how terrible life can be as a boy in a man’s body?

You know yourself better than you know anyone else.

Getting closer to being you will bring you closer to other people.

You’re the only one you need to impress.

Bless your beautiful soul for being here!

Gosh, am I ever lucky to have the chance to chat. I really had a good time with you today. This was a really fun one to write. I could tell it was brewing in there awhile.

No rush, feel free to peruse around, there are a couple hot posts out right now, check what’s recent.

And toss your e-mail down below. I’d love a chance to get some of these good ideas into your inbox, and into your life.

Sam the man here signing off, thanking you for being here.

Once again, I extend my gratitude to the best looking audience on the internet.