Making Ripples

Posted on January 22, 2014 by Robert Ringer


A while back, I received an interesting e-mail from a subscriber that read:

“I am unsubscribing.  I really enjoyed reading your letters, until you decided to bring your politics into it.  I’m sorry, but I’m with the 70 percent of the country that disagrees with you.  You are a very smart man and a gifted writer.  I will take that with me.  You can keep the rest.” — Greg H.

I was kind of perplexed as to why Greg expressed a high regard for my writing but opted to cancel because he didn’t like my politics.  I wondered how long he had been reading me, because anyone familiar with my work knows that my ideological beliefs run through virtually everything I write — always have and always will.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I try to learn from every experience, whether it be positive or negative, and I certainly learned a lot from Greg’s e-mail.  First, it reminded me once again just how rigidly divided we are as a society.  When I use the word rigidly, I mean that not only are we divided in our thinking, we don’t even want to hear what the other side has to say.

’Twas not always so.  When I was growing up, before the coming of the PC Monster, people actually engaged in civil dialog and had civil disagreements.  Today, however, the objective is to silence those who don’t agree with your point of view.

The second important point I mined from Greg’s e-mail can be summed up in an old but all-too-true cliché:  You can’t please everyone.  The problem with trying to please all of the people all of the time is that it turns you into a big chunk of mush disguised as a human being.  No one hates you, but no one loves you, either.

I’ve always felt that the saddest way to go through life would be to never even make a ripple.  Whether it’s Barack Obama or Ted Cruz, Michael Moore or Bill O’Reilly, the Dalai Lama or Glenn Beck, all have one thing in common:  Love them or hate them, they make ripples.  In fact, they make very big ripples.

And so should you if you want to live life as opposed to just passing through on your way to the grave.  When you get up every morning, the first thing you should do is ask yourself if you did anything yesterday to make a ripple.  Even more important, ask yourself what you can do to make a ripple today.

All great achievements begin in the mind.  Thinking about ripples leads to making ripples.  Don’t fear being different.  Don’t fear offending people who get their noses out of joint because they don’t like what you say or do.  Don’t fear downside consequences to the point you can’t bring yourself to take action.

Above all, don’t fear making big ripples.  Try to accomplish things that no one has accomplished before.  Shock your competitors.  Leapfrog over the pack.

The ever-quotable 17th century Jesuit priest Baltasar Gracian said it eloquently:  “Have stomach for the large morsels of fortune. … Great accomplishments are built on great capacity. … There are many who cannot enjoy highly seasoned dishes because of their natural limitations, neither having been born to, or having been accustomed to, such high fare.”

I guess it’s true that some people simply don’t have the stomach to think big thoughts, let alone take big actions.  The ultimate nightmare for such people is waking up some fine morning only to discover that they’re going in the opposite direction as the mainstream is headed.

To people with a lemming mentality, acceptance is more important than money, dignity, or purpose.  Which is unfortunate, because success and the desire for acceptance are mutually exclusive objectives.

In my business, I’ve become convinced that the sooner a writer learns this, the sooner he is in a position to tap into his true genius.  The great 20th century novelist E. B. White put it succinctly when he said, “The whole duty of a writer is to please and satisfy himself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one.”

From time to time, a reader will call me to task for being too “touchy-feely” in some article I’ve written.  And when I go back and reread the offending article, I usually end up agreeing with him.  Touchy-feely doesn’t make ripples, but it doesn’t result in an avid readership, either.

So when ex-loyal reader Greg complains about my daring to show my “politics,” it sends a very different signal than a complaint about my being too touchy-feely.   On the contrary, it tells me that I’m on the right track.  Why?  Because if you strive to be loved by everyone, you will end up being loved by no one.

Remember this well:  Whatever your occupation, if you say or do something that gets half the population angry — or at last indignant — the other half is almost certain to love you.  And guess what?  You don’t need half the people in the world to love you in order to get everything you want in life.  One-tenth of 1 percent will do just fine, thank you.

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

46 responses to “Making Ripples”

  1. Murray Suid says:

    Robert, not everyone likes reading opinions from "the other side" (whatever that other side happens to be). Paying attention to the opposition–really listening–may be a dying art. Have you noticed the popularity of certain political radio shows that give only one side relentlessly. Such shows don't invite folks from the other side to engage in dialogue. Those programs are more like advertisements.

    I happen to enjoy encountering messages from people whose perspective differs from mine. For example, while I'm a non-believer, I frequently listen to fundamentalist Christian preachers. While I'm left-leaning, I subscribe to an extreme right-wing blog. Doing these things helps me better understand the whole of our society. And maybe occasionally I need to modify my own thinking. But I confess: being open to the opposition is painful.

    I wonder: Do you spend much time reading and listening to people whose ideas differ from yours?

    • Steve Bowers says:

      I think Robert displays a pretty good understanding of the political spectrum and that understanding likely comes from studying his opposition. He is not in a political bubble.

      • John E. Gabor says:

        I agree with Steve. RJR is not in a political bubble. I just didn't know what his political affiliation was. RJR said his ideology is freedom. Along those lines, where is the freedom in forcing a host to invite in speakers with opposing views? Fox News already does that voluntarily, and the left still vilifies them.

  2. Paul Anthony says:

    Well said, as usual.
    I'll never understand why so many people strive to be average. There is nothing exceptional about being average.
    As to your ex-subscriber, you might want to recall the words of Ezra Pound: "Pay no attention to the criticism of men who have never themselves written a notable work."

  3. Don Dahringer says:

    Some time ago, I was an avid reader of your political commentary along with articles by Michelle Malkin and others. Somehow, I am no longer able to receive or access these articles. Can you help? (second request).

  4. Dave M. says:

    Robert, the more out of step you are with the Greg’s of this world the better. You are my favorite author. Please continue.

  5. Vince says:

    Reminds me of something Dan Kennedy said… "If you never offend anyone then you are not saying anything worth saying. I try to offend someone everyday."

  6. Jim Hallett says:

    As a fellow libertarian, I like writing that is not encumbered by pc gibberish (which I can get from any lamestream media source or the public school system!), and which causes one to think. Since each of us is different, there is no way each article will touch on the same degree of relevance to me or anyone else. That does not cause me to turn the other way – just wait for another article that might be more attuned to where I am at any given moment. One thing I can say for certain, even if some of the language is designed to "stir up the pot", is that the articles are well-thought out, full of logic, and do not attempt to tell others what to do – they just rebel at the thought that others feel entitled to dictate how things should be for all of us (why govt. is a TOTAL disaster!). It is increasingly harder to "find freedom in an unfree world" (kudos to the late Harry Browne for that book) in the U.S. police state, but I will continue to champion folks like yourself that attempt to wake up the masses and endorse freedom (with responsibility, of course!). Thanks!

  7. JackTBear says:

    I laughed at the assertion that "70% of the country" disagrees with Robert.

    From which orifice did Greg pull that silly 'statistic' ?

    Keep up the good work Robert.

  8. william says:

    Most people do not want to hear the truth and live in a totally unreal world

    I learned that from you MANY years ago–and it has not or will it ever change.

    Keep up the Great Work

    Dr.William Martin D.C.

  9. John says:

    I can understand Greg’s point of view. I think your differences with Obama can be understood if they didn’t come off as being personal,which I find most offensive. I may be liberal but the right wing tend to not give the President a chance and I wouldn’t like it if Mitt was treated that way. The right wing should wake up we live in a more diverse world now.

    • Scott theczech says:

      John, you may be confusing "right wing" with libertarian. Most libertarians are what used to be known as traditional liberals.

    • It is the left who are violent and offensive.

    • Pat says:

      If he didn't PERSONALLY feel the differences between himself and Obama, why should he write at all? This "more diverse" world is full of bullies, and I am being bullied bigtime on another site. I am not allowed to have an opinion different from theirs. They have even resorted to calling me insane in a dozen different ways.

  10. Tex says:

    What surprised me the most was that "Greg H." wrote in such a civilized manner. My observation of what currently passes for "debate" is that when a left-leaning person, in particular, has no facts to support their position, they simply try to out-shout the other person. My hearing is declining and I can't understand what anyone is saying since they seem to continuously talk-over each other.

  11. Bill says:

    An old Army Air Corps saying; "If you're not catching flak then you're not over your target."

  12. Bill U says:

    Well said Robert. For a while I was maybe a little too much like Greg. But have to come to realize that a lot of what you say, strikes a note of inspiration within me. All politicians on both sides have an expectation that someone is going to have to make a sacrifice so that they can implement their beliefs on the people as a whole.

    Personally I prefer pure Laissez-Faire Capitalism, every person is born with individual rights and no person has a right to interfere with those rights especially politicians!

  13. John E. Gabor says:

    I'm just the opposite. I liked your articles better when you were talking politics. I'm not big on self-help articles, but I always read your articles. That said, Gregg puzzles me. I've been reading your articles for years, and, to tell the truth, I don't know what your political affiliation is. I'm certain you are pro-capitalism. But I couldn't say if you are a republican or a democrat. If I had to guess, I would say you are conservative and possibly libertarian. You are correct at how rigidly divided our country has become. We have been talking about that in my circle. People like Gregg miss out on a lot and probably become narrow-minded and brain-washed. I let them all into my world – from the extreme left to the extreme right – and we have good conversations and arguments. Or, as you put it, we like to make ripples. Myself, I've only disliked something in your articles twice. Once when you made a personal attack against Debbie Wasserman-Schultz' appearance, and when you referred to God as The Supreme Being or something like that. I complained to you about the former, and recognized your free will to do so on the latter. I also realize that your "thing" is motivation/self-help and that is why most of your articles have that theme. But I do miss your political stuff….

  14. Scott theczech says:

    RJR thinks and writes about much more than politics, folks! His thoughts and insights include, and aren't limited to: sociology, theology, history, economics, natural science, music, literature etc. Oh yes, a little self-awareness/improvement thrown in for good measure.

    • John E. Gabor says:

      True, Czech. I wasn't trying to be limiting or put Mr. Ringer in a "box". Yes, the list is long and interesting. I just meant the goal of most of his articles is to make us better – that's the only reason I referred to it as motivation/self-help.

    • Robert Ringer RJR says:

      Thank you, Czech. I appreciate that you've noticed.

  15. Dave says:

    Duetshbag Bill O’Reilly makes ripples?
    This is a vile sickening piece of sh1t who won't say anything beyond the middle….

    • John E. Gabor says:

      Do you watch him? He's always making ripples. Maybe you just don't like his ripples. But, yes, he does get criticism for some of the things he chooses to leave alone.

    • Robert Ringer RJR says:

      Should I assume that you don't like Bill O'Reilly?

  16. george says:

    When going out to enjoy life. I enjoy the company of drinking companions with sharp wits, and the ability to make ripples. When the drinks are watered down and the rum cola has flat coke in it, I have a good friend who literally starts yelling it is great. Now when go to these places we get the best service and they crack open a new bottle of coke. Making ripples cuts through a lot of problems muy rapidamente. (Very Quickly)

  17. MassOutrage says:

    I'm a "Greg H." who loves what the Tortoise teaches, and whose life has been immeasurably enriched because of his wisdom. Thank you, Mr. Ringer, from another Greg. H.

  18. real American says:

    I don't know who these "70 percent" Greg is referring to. He is in the minority but alas, cannot see it. That's what ignorance does to you.

  19. laleydelexito says:

    I loved this post

    This happens to me a lot

    I am a ripple maker, and sometimes I need encouragement to keep it up, because the masses wants me to conform

    But I disagree!

    Thank you Robert

  20. anofienem IGWEDINMA says:

    Thanks Gregg. I had a similar experience recently. I saw a photograph of John (not real name please to avoid ill feeling) trapping a glace of liquor and cigarette and at the same time trying to operate a phone. That was a scene in a party. I made a comment (sorry I cannot replicate the comment hear for the same reason as stated above) and it sparked off avalanche varied opinions from various other readers.

    The next day I got a mail with a stern warning to unsubscribe from his mailing list. The use of words put me off for days that I had to read my own write up for over four times.

    Well, I learn my lessons but now mindful of people's background, religion and depositions and all that. But know for sure that you cannot suite everybody. Its not possible. Just be yourself.

    Greg is doing a great job. Please keep it up.
    Best regrads.
    Anofienem Igwedinma

  21. Mert says:

    I definitely don't share your political views, Robert. And that doesn't change the fact that you are a great person who has a lot of wisdom, thinks very hard, and expresses his ideas in a great manner.

    The only point I would 'unsubscribe' from a relationship with anybody is when they quit bringing intelligence and care to their communication, when they get disrespectful and mindlessly aggressive to push their stuff.

    Greg will miss some nice things. Hope he comes back. Keep being who you are.

  22. Heather says:

    Amen, Robert! I cannot add a thing, you said it all.

  23. Taejonwill says:

    I thought your opinion about Obama making himself dictator (50/50 chance) were overwrought and your support of Glenn Beck, who does come off to me as mentally unbalanced as matters as alienating….

  24. Jitin says:

    Greg, you will miss the gifted writing because you cannot ignore the politics.

  25. Ash says:

    I just subscriber to your list today Jan 24 via a message from someone I respect and to whose list I belong, but, if you're going to be sending me politically inclined messages I will certainly have to unsubscribe because it's no different to someone telling me about their religion or sexuality etc when it's not what I signed up for.

  26. Kipngeno says:

    Your articles are awesome. I happen to come from a culture that criticism is taken negatively and the pressure to conform is high. I have learnt a lot from you…no longer a “yes” man to anything without question