Derek Sivers

Programmer, writer, entrepreneur, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

Articles → The public you is not you

If everyone is famous for 15 minutes, we need to learn a quick lesson in celebrity : the public you is not you.

Over the summer, I rewrote the CD Baby software. I learned some programming lessons along the way, so I felt a kind of social obligation to share my lessons learned, to help a future person in a similar situation.

It took 90 minutes or so to write out my explanation of the situation and lessons learned, then I posted it on my (other) blog, not thinking many people would see it, read it, or care.

The next day I found out that many of the top programmer-focused websites had linked to my story with a sensationalist headline. Hundreds of people screamed their anger in the blog comments, calling me an idiot, saying my website sucks, the world is crap because of people like me, any warthog could have programmed my site in a tenth of the time without opposable thumbs, etc.

It reminded me of the times in the past when I’ve posted things on the CD Baby message board that got hundreds of people calling me a genius, saying my website rules, the world is great because of people like me, and nobody else on earth could have done the brilliant things I’ve done.

In both cases, people are talking about the public version of me, not the real me.

Neither one should be taken personally. (Unless you’re feeling down, then go read the compliments and taken them very personally, temporarily, to get back in gear.)

For musicians, it’s especially important to remember this, since your music is not you, but just something you’ve done.

Some easy ways to practice this mindset: