Why you need to stop listening to your parents’ advice

Mehdi Ghariani
8 min readAug 8, 2017

If you are reading this, chances are, you’ve been more or less influenced by your elders when it comes to your educational and professional choices.

“What? You wanna become an artist just because you are passionate about art and creation? No one ever made a life out of Art, get into law and get a real degree !”

Rings a bell, doesn’t it? Most people I’ve come to meet throughout my university cursus and the beginning of my professional life have been pushed by their parents towards a path they had no interest in.

While some of them refused to give in to their elders’ advice and pursued their own path, others had to bend to the choices their parents had made for them. And here they are, after a few years, regretting not to have followed their passions and explored their full potential.

Why am I questioning all this?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying listening to your parents is always a bad idea. Our elders’ experience and guidance can be of high value when it comes to our future, especially when I see so many people of my age completely lost about what they want to do with their life.

My point is, your parents experience and perception are no longer adapted to our current generation’s expectations towards life, and to our definition of success.

Get a good degree they said. Go look for an internship in a big boring corporation they said. Spend your days printing paperwork and making coffees for your boss, it’s always good for your CV they also said.

“Joining this company for a 6-month coffee-machine internship would be a wise decision. Plus, it’s very good line on your CV”

Most people I have been surrounded with made these “standard”, “safe” choices, that have been impulsed by their parents.

These parents have put so much emphasis on the importance for their children to get a “safety net-degree”, that the latter convinced themselves that it was the right path to follow. And here they are, after 5 years or more, realising they should never have listened to that bullshit.

You know what, FUCK THAT

What if you started seeing things differently? What if you stopped blindly following the bullshit rules your parents have been shoving down your throat since your childhood?

Instead of blindly accepting to invest your time and attention in a subject/job you are not passionate about, what if you started investing in yourself? And by that, I mean investing 100% of yourself: no procrastination, no bullshit excuses, no “I’ll do that later”. If you make the bold choice to follow your passion, do it right, and success will follow. Don’t be afraid to chase your passions and do the things you’ve always wanted to do, but that you’ve always been putting off because someone told you they weren’t the “right things” to do.

There is a major difference, from the society’s mindset point of view, between our parents’ time and our time. 40 years ago, the norm was to get the best grades in high school, so that you’ll able to get into the best universities, that will provide you with a good degree as the key to a financially safe future, thus enabling you to take care of a nice family (and dog) in a nice house, never fearing financial distress and never putting your beloved ones in trouble.

Better kill me bitch, please.

Turns out, fortunately for my generation, things have drastically changed. Except in some professional paths where educational credits are strictly required (doctor, lawyer, engineer), the boundaries to any type of professional success — and especially in business — have been brought down by the widespread use of and easy access to online resources, along with a fascinating ubiquity of information.

Good news: today, you don’t need a business degree from Harvard to become the next Richard Branson (the dude struggled and dropped out of school at 16). Today technological progress has made it possible for anyone to get access to any kind of valuable information that will teach him/her how to build him/herself from scratch.

Does it mean everyone will become a rich motherfucker? Hell no, but ANYONE can.

I already hear you protesting about how important it is to get access to the right network (through a good university, or simply your rich parents’ network). I hear you. We don’t all get the same chances, but we all can start with the same amount of information. What you do with it is your choice.

Liberty means responsibility. That’s why most people dread it

Choosing the path to your passion surely isn’t the easiest path to follow.

Good news for the risk-averse people among us who choose to play it safe rather than to play it passionate (and I have been among them for a long time): the education system has been set up to make it easier for people to follow a pre-determined path. Graduating from university with a good degree will surely open some gates for you in the professional world. There is one question you need to ask yourself though: are those the gates to your definition of success and self-fulfilment?

If you hadn’t thought about it yet, think twice.

By choosing to follow your passions and chase your goals, you are creating your own path, not a path made of degrees, graduations and official credentials. Most people will fear being the writer of their own story, preferring to watch their education and professional life unfold in front of them, written by the pen of the system.

Few of these people will reach the liberty they have been craving for deep down. Only by creating your own path and rules will you be able to create your own liberty.

I am not saying this is easy. I have myself always chosen the “safe” path, by putting hard work into my high school and top-university cursus, in order to get the best degree I could.

  • Only after graduating and starting my startup-journey did I realise that all this time could have been spent more effectively.
  • Only after discovering the infinite opportunities in business and the startup-world did I see the added value of “real-world” learning and hands-on business experience.
  • Only after meeting fascinating people who had created and cashed-out of 3 companies at the age of 21 did I come to think that I had been losing too much time on the university benches.

While some smart motherfuckers were out there getting some hands-on, field experience and making things happen (and making tons of cash), I was sitting on front of an old man who was shoving down my throat old business theories that had been developed 100 years ago by even older men, and whose chances of being implemented throughout my startup journey were close to zero. After all, who gives a single fuck about Ricardo’s comparative advantage theory and the 16th century sales techniques?

Truth is, some of the smartest, most successful people in the Business world didn’t finish college. None of them learned their most critical skills at an institution of higher education. And like them, most of what you’ll need to learn to be successful you’ll have to learn on your own, outside of school.

If you still don’t believe me, please stop whatever the fuck you are doing and go grab The Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsberg, one of the most inspiring books I have come to read.

But why is this idea of a good degree as the only key to success in life still so strong?

I’ll tell you why. Because this is the way we have been raised. Since our childhood, we’ve been told this is the only way it works. Few of us took the time to question these rules, that have been repeated to us so many time that they became unquestionable. These prevailing rules have created a system, that few of us dared to leave, fearing to be called crazy or unconscious.

What if we started a paradigm shift? What if we realised that these rules had been instilled by a society that has gone through so many changes since then, that the system it created has now become outdated?

The common-sense rules of the “real world” are a fragile collection of socially reinforced illusions

You read me right. Again, credits to Timothy Ferris and his life-changing Four-hour-workweek (go read this book NOW please), who made me realise the amount of bullshit rules I had been blindly following, and who changed my perception of self-fulfilment and success (more on that in the following articles).

Once you start asking yourself the right questions and thinking about the education and career choices you (or your parents) have been making over the last years, maybe you’ll come to realise this is time for a change.

You need to cut the crap and drink a shot of humility bro’, who are you after all?

I am no one (or at least, no one yet), but a 25 years startup associate who is passionate about what he’s doing, and trying to share what he learned over the last years.

I know I am getting too much of your precious time, but this had been on my mind for quite a while. It took me 7 long years to come to this conclusion, and I hope it will help some of you see clearer in the rough ocean of their upcoming career choices.

Time for a conclusion

Stop following that new line on your CV, or that new degree. Unless you are aiming at becoming a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer, you don’t need that fucking extra degree. The historically strong emphasis that has been put on educational credentials and professional safety happened at the expense of the pursuit of our dreams, our personal development and our self-fulfilment. By deciding to stop following the “get-a-good-degree-and-a-safe-job” rat race, we allow ourselves to look beyond the strict realm of the common-sense rules of the “real world”, we allow ourselves to develop skills that are way more relevant to our own definition and success.

All you need is to invest in yourself.

And if you feel like giving up because you think this is too hard, remember the motto:

Prove all these haters wrong

Remember that when they say it’s impossible, it’s because their perception prism and skills makes it impossible for them, not for you.

It might be art, journalism, hands-on business experience, or whatever passion it is, please do follow it. And by follow it, I mean put all the hustle and grit in making something out of it. Prove them all wrong.

And if you’re afraid about money, remember you need to chase the vision, not the money. The money will end up following you.

I will now shut the fuck up and let you think. As they say, “let your hustle be louder than your mouth”.

Truly yours,

If you don’t know where/how to start and you are too paralysed by the fear of not making it, check my previous article on why done is better than perfect.

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Mehdi Ghariani

Co-founder of AirFit.co. Disrupting the Outdoor Fitness industry and striving to build healthier societies by making sports free for everyone.