Stephen Ridley escaped Investment Banking to be a musician. 24 hours after quitting his job, he rolled an upright piano into the middle of one of London’s busiest streets and started playing. After 1 month he had been offered 9 management deals, and started recording his first album, Butterfly In A Hurricane, now on iTunes.

He has written the following article about behaving yourself, being good. But really it’s about happiness, self-respect and rejecting negativity – three things that are inextricably bound up with our careers and whether we feel like we get the lot we deserve or whether we can be audacious enough to expect (and work damn hards towards) more.

Anyone who was in the crowd last October for our big Do Something Different event for his gig and talk will remember that he doesn’t pull any punches, he tells it as he sees it and he is unapologetically passionate, raw, and authentic. Over to Stephen (scroll down for his latest vid)…

Hope you’re having a good day – Rob.

Why bother being good?

Everyday the newspaper tells the same depressing stories. Youth crime, corporate tax-avoidance, dishonest lawyers, selfish bankers, mass genocide, needless wars, countless violent acts of extreme hatred, rape, oppression and corruption, right down to the cheating footballer’s wife, as told in the lying gossip magazine.

I don’t read the news too much. It seems only to focus on the bad, and I’ve come to realise that when people hear over and over, day after day, about bad things, it seems that they start to think that they are justified in being a little less noble themselves. ‘That’s just the world we live in’ – ‘everyone’s taking drugs’, ‘everyone cheats’, ‘everyone gossips’. The media makes celebrities of the worst of us, and subsequently, over time, people feel excused to drift into moral grey areas, asking ‘Why bother being good when everyone else is bad?’. Well if we can’t answer that question, we’re heading for a very dark world indeed, and so that’s the question I want to answer in this article. Why bother being good?

“I propose being the change… Don’t lose your self-respect”

I’ve asked myself this question before in the darkest hours. Of course, like everyone, bad things have happened to me in my life. I’ve been mugged twice, burgled twice, and had a gun to my head in Rio. My dad died when I was 15, I’ve had 2 cheating ex-girlfriends and one gold-digger (even though I didn’t have any gold!). I’ve broken bones, had 3 near death experiences, in a car, on a motorbike and on a jet-ski, and in my first year in music, I’ve been let down and lied to more than I’d like to admit. But hey, everyone has a few sob stories!

You see that’s the thing. Bad things happen to everyone. The world is tough and fucks ups will occur. So what do you do? Do you crumble? Do you use these events to justify doing things that you know you shouldn’t? Do you get your own back on the world? We live in a culture of endless blame and vengeance, which might suggest that any of these reactions are righteous or at least justified, but I propose a different idea. I propose being the change.

You don’t play the victim, you don’t look for excuses, you don’t lose your self-respect. The reason is simple. You see, self-respect is the single greatest commodity a person can own. With it, you can take on any challenge, bounce back from any fall, make everything go right. You know that you deserve the best, so go out and you get it! You don’t shy away from opportunities, you make them! You don’t run away from love, you embrace it and make more!

Suddenly you stop being the effect, and start being the cause over your life; you have control!! You know who you are, you know where you’re going, and you can say this with certainty because you know that when you make a decision, you stick to it and see it through.

So how do you get self-respect?

From being good comes self-respect, from self-respect comes self-confidence, from self-confidence comes self-determinism (i.e. control), and from self-determinism comes getting exactly what you want out of life. This is the only road to real happiness.

I say it again, self-respect really is the only road to real happiness!

You keep your ethics, because that’s the one thing that separates you from the worst in humanity. You lead by example. You stay unequivocally true to what you know. Irrespective of whatever anybody else says or does, irrespective to how hard or easy it is, you stand unwavering, on the right path. That’s character. It doesn’t allow for excuses, justifications, reasons. There are no limits, integrity has no compromise. You have to cultivate love in your heart in order to see and feel anything worthwhile in this world. Love, truly, is without pre-requisites or prejudice, without terms and conditions, without negotiation. It’s easy to love when you keep to your ethics, because you feel like a good person worthy of love and are therefore full of it.

How do you become good? You just decide. You stand up, you say I am a good person and I will not let anything change that. And you really mean it! You say that with the same certainty you say that the grass is green and the sky is blue.

It’s an easy decision to make because we are all inherently good. Being good therefore doesn’t mean carrying this heavy weight of morality, it’s actually you shedding the weight of the guilt and negativity and bullshit you’ve been carrying around and growing on your back for no reason all these years.

Chose to be someone worthy of your pride, respect and admiration, and you will flourish and prosper. That is why you should be good, and that’s how we make a happier world. Walk with passion in your heart and your head held high.

My love, always,

Swapping the suit for the stage! –


If you want to receive Escape the City blog posts directly into your inbox just click here. We write about leaving big corporates, pursuing alternative careers, building businesses, and going on big adventures. The Escape team are hard at work over on the main site building Escape Profiles that help people make big career changes.

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