I speak to a lot of entrepreneurs daily (and those pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams). I genuinely love helping others, and take pride in being the person others turn to. However, recently I’ve noticed a concerning trend: I’m being put on a pedestal.
The conversations usually consist of people congratulating me on my success, talking about what they want to do, and me encouraging them. But it often feels like they’re discounting who they are as people because they haven’t “made it” in their own eyes. Because they aren’t living their dream lifestyle, they believe that somehow this makes them less of a person.
And the thing is, I get it. For a long time, I felt the need to prove myself and measure up. Because in my head, I was coming up short. There are two things wrong with this:
1. We are not defined by our failures. We are defined by our attitude towards our failures.
Billionaire Richard Branson says, “We’ve never been 100% sure that any of the businesses we’ve started at Virgin were going to be successful, but over 45 years, we’ve always stood by our motto: ‘Screw it, let’s do it.’ While this attitude has helped us build hundreds of companies, it hasn’t always resulted in success.”
And when he fails, he learns what he can from his mistakes and moves on (quickly). That’s why it’s important to not be afraid of failing for fear of looking dumb, feeling inadequate, or being less “cool” to friends and family. In order to fully grow, we must be willing to step outside our comfort zones and feel out of place.
2. I’ve failed — a lot.
I get this notion that people believe (since I’ve had some success) that I’ve never failed before; that as smart individuals, you’ve either “got it” or you don’t; that all of the entrepreneurs who have had “success” are different, and that they’ve amassed this level of success virtually overnight. In other words, they believe it came easy.
Now look, I certainly love my life. I don’t feel like I have to measure up to anyone anymore. But it wasn’t always this way. And that’s because I’ve changed my mindset. I’ve been told “no” over 100 times this past year, but every single “no” pushed me that much closer to a “yes” (which has happened a lot too). We’re not capped at who and where we are. No one, and I mean no one, is an expert right away.
I've dealt with my fair share of setbacks, challenges and failures. My dad passed away when I was three years old. I was the only boy in the neighborhood, at sporting and school events without a father. I always felt out of place. I failed several classes in high school and somehow managed to make it through college. I can remember having five dollars in my bank account — with a week left before I was being paid again. At my first job, my manager told me he was going to fire me unless I improved as an employee. During my very first speech on stage, I froze up -- literally forgetting my next few lines. Not to be outdone, I was laughed at when I pitched my first company. That company failed, by the way. I lived at home with my girlfriend's mother for two years, trying to save money and make my current dream happen.
And we did.
I wasn’t sure when, but I knew I would one day build a seven-figure business (and I did). But it wasn’t because of skill or luck. It was the belief that it could be done, that I was improving every day. That despite every setback, there were triumphs to celebrate as well.
For those of you struggling with doubt and fear right now, here are a few quick tips:
- Think of the bigger picture: Where you are now doesn't determine where you're going.
- Meditate: When I'm having a particularly tough day, I take some time for myself. I meditate to clear my mind.
- Move around: As Tony Robbins says, "Motion creates emotion." If you're feeling stagnant or down, get up and move around.
With that said, I still have moments where I feel uncomfortable. Purposely.
I’m still told “no” every day. I constantly feel like I’m a fish out of water, pushing myself to grow and adapt. But I know that where I am doesn’t dictate where I’m going. Our success (or lack thereof) does not dictate who we are as individuals. It doesn’t determine our intelligence. Just because you might think your business isn’t where it should be right now, rest assured that with the right attitude and guidance, you can do it.
The first step is to believe it’s possible.