Derek Sivers

from the book “Hell Yeah or No”:

The mirror: It’s about you, not them.


If you see a gorgeous painting that fascinates you, does it matter if you find out the artist didn’t pay her taxes? Would you stop enjoying the painting?

If someone shows you a great way to memorize names, does it matter if you find out that person is an alcoholic? Would you no longer trust their memorization techniques?

When I buy a book that has a picture of the author on the cover, I rip off and trash the cover before I even leave the store. I don’t care who the author is. All that matters are the ideas inside the book and what I do with them.

James Brown was my biggest musical influence. I even named my band “Hit Me” in homage to him. I had posters of him on my wall. But when I worked at Warner/Chappell Music in the early ’90s and they told me he was coming to the office that day, I went home early to avoid meeting him. I didn’t want the complete flawed man to taint that flawless music that changed my life.

Maybe the examples seem silly, but it was important to me to remember that what matters is what I get out of their work, not the person who made it.

I often tell people about a great book I think will help them, but sometimes they dismiss the book because they heard something they didn’t like about the author. What I think they’re really saying is, “Now that I’ve proven that the messenger is not perfect, I don’t have to listen to anything they say.”

But the act of reading a book is really about you and what you get from it. All that matters is what you do with the ideas, no matter the source. Apply them to your own life in your own way.

It was never about them. It’s about you.