The first way that things can go wrong for you, is that you fail. You put yourself out there and you look the part. The opportunity comes and you seize it.
And then you fail. Either you get rejected by the person you just asked out, or you get laughed out of the interview as you go for that job. Maybe you create a product that bombs. Maybe you try your hand at painting and you break your arm.
No, I don’t know how that happened either. You’re that bad.
So, what now?
Simple: you try again. This is not a failure; it is an attempt. Those two words can describe the precise same event but they have completely different connotations. An attempt simply means you’ll try again. Failure simply means that it didn’t work and now you’ve given up.
If you don’t give up, you don’t fail!
Think about a painter or a dancer. The very first time they tried their art, they were not good. They were terrible. It is highly rare to ace anything the very first time. Instead, repeated trial and error is what eventually led them to become great.
And it’s the same for anything you want in life. Anything you want in life requires skill. And skill requires practice, patients and repetition.
So, if that first man or woman turns you down. You try again. If you get fired, you try again.
If your business goes bankrupt, you try again.
You will have learned from the experience (promise!) and when you try the second time, your odds of success will have just gone up.
And each time you try your odds go up too. If you have ‘resilience’ – the ability to keep on going strong even when life is pissing on you – then you will be able to keep bouncing back, keep getting stronger. It takes a lot to put you down. But you only need to succeed once for your dreams to come true.
So, keep on rolling the dice. Learn the power of repetition.
Another friend of mine appears to be terrible at dating. On any given night out, he will get rejected by 10 women.
But guess what? He always goes home with someone. Because he asks 11 women.
He gets rejected a whole lot more than the rest of us, but he’s playing the numbers. If you ask 100 women then one of them are likely to say yes!
If you send out 100 emails asking for work experience, then one of them will say yes. Keep plugging away and never surrender!
You’re in Over Your Head
Another reason that a lot of people don’t take the opportunities they want or don’t get what they want, is that they get in over their heads or they feel that way.
Have you ever been offered a job and turned it down because you don’t think you can do it?
Have you ever been in a role and hated it because you feel you’re not contributing enough? Because you’re scared you’re going to be fired any moment?
I had this experience very recently. I took on a job writing about a subject that I didn’t really understand and creating applications that were way above my pay grade. It was some scary stuff.
But I ‘faked it’ it until I ‘made it’. I accepted every task they sent my way and I tried damn hard. I even stayed up late working on those jobs.
Over time, I got better. Now I’m confident in that role and I know that I’m so much more valuable as a result.
And actually, it turns out that most of the most successful people in the world feel the exact same way. Most of everyone feels the exact same way.
This is what you call ‘imposter syndrome’.
Imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon and affliction that affects many of us. It simply describes the tendency that we have to feel as though we aren’t really worthy of the accolades or the opportunities that we’ve been offered.
If you feel as though you’re faking it in a job or you lucked out, or that you don’t deserve the praise you just got from your manager then guess what? You have imposter syndrome!
But so does everyone else. Do you know Elon Musk? I bet he has it too. And David Beckham.
But you wouldn’t be where you are right now unless you deserved it. Even if you have to work a little harder, if you are capable of faking it then you are better than 99% of the competition. In that case, you do deserve whatever has come your way. So own it!
This is very important because if you don’t take the opportunities because you don’t think you’re good enough, then you’ll never get good enough.
If you only do things you can already do… how will you get better?
If you don’t ask out that 10, then you will never know if you could have gotten a yes!
Here’s the thing: all of the things in life that are the scariest are almost always the most worthwhile and the most valuable. If you’re stressed going into an interview or a date, then it means you probably really want it to go well.
If you back away from anything that makes you stressed then, you will stay stagnant. And this is also what happened to my friend, unfortunately. Yes, he said that he was too good for those management opportunities (remember now?) but the reality is probably that he was scared to go for them. The guy had a very fragile ego and so rather than face failure, he would rather stay precisely where he was.
And never try anything new.
And never get any of the things he wanted.
He’s 35 and he still lives at home with his parents, can’t drive and is single. Now again, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. But it’s a bad thing for him, because I know it’s not what he wants. In fact, it’s likely that he wants other things a little too much and that’s why he’s still frozen.
You Don’t Know Your Own Worth
This point ties in with the last one. One of the reasons that we get imposter syndrome in the first place is simply that we have no idea of our own worth. We don’t value ourselves highly enough and we think we aren’t capable and thus we present ourselves in a way that undermines our value.
This is partly why so many people end up not wearing the clothes that will make them look and feel like they’re already highly successful (kiss goodbye to that law of attraction!). This is why so many people end up not taking opportunities and not forcing more progression.
The most obvious example of this is when someone prices a service they provide, or ask for a certain salary.
I have another friend who is in a very good job right now but who is earning $20,000 a year less than their colleague who does the same job. Why? Because the colleague asked for more. It’s THAT simple.
I used to provide writing services at an abysmally low price until I realized my worth. I realized I could get more than I currently was for the work I was doing. So, I just put up my rates. By 50%.
Overnight, I had a 50% pay rise.
Know your worth and don’t be afraid to ask for it and push for it. Don’t be taken for a ride!
Life Gets in the Way
One of the biggest things holding us back is the fact that life gets in the way. We have all these plans, to start our own business, to find love, to travel the world, to get a beautiful home.
Then life gets in the way. There’s never a good time to invest in property, there’s always some other big expense around the corner.
Likewise, there’s never a good time to go travelling for three months. Your partner won’t like it. Your boss won’t like it. The rent won’t pay for itself.
But if you let life get in the way, then you will never have what you truly want. But in addition to what I’m going to say there, I’ll also say this:
There is never a good time. If you really want something, you have to be willing to dive in head first and to lose sight of land. And you should never feel bad about going after what you want. And you should never seek permission.
As Tim Ferriss says, don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness. In other words, just do it. And then worry about it later.
And here’s one more tidbit: don’t feel like you should have to choose. A lot of people never commit to anything because they feel like they’re losing opportunities.
For instance, a lot of people won’t propose to the love of their life because they want to pursue their career and go travelling. You wouldn’t believe how many people I’ve spoken to (mostly men, interestingly) who did exactly that and then regretted it.
Ironically, most of them never ended up pursuing those goals anyway!
Guess what: I’m married, I have a house, but I still travel, I still wrote a book, I still run a business… There’s no reason you can’t have your cake and eat it too. I run my business but I also have an active social life.
It just means working a little harder. It means digging a little deeper sometimes and finding that bit more energy. But if ever you find yourself at a cross roads feeling torn between two options, I want you to say this: ‘sod it, I’m going to do both!’.