So I wanted to write a quick interim piece on a lesson that I learned from Tony Robbins relating to skepticism. I’m naturally a skeptic. I say naturally, but I think like most people what I really mean is that I’ve learned to question things and people before trusting them. I think that’s normal, and I think it’s smart.
However what I didn’t realize, was how my skepticism was affecting my ability to grow and achieve new things.
See being a skeptic is easy. It’s far easier to just dismiss something, than it is to trust and believe in it. Trust and belief take bravery and courage. You’re putting yourself out there, and you’re risking being judged by others. You’re risking other people looking at you and judging you for “being gullible”, or “being wrong”, or “making a stupid decision”. For this reason, it’s easier to be a skeptic, to doubt, and to stay safely where you are by dismissing the opportunities around you.
Skepticism is a defence mechanism
And that’s really it. Skepticism is something that you learn from a young age to protect you from looking stupid. Imagine a little kid hearing about Santa Claus for the first time ever, and saying “Pfffft yea right. Flying reindeer? Delivering presents to all the kids on earth in one night? Yea that sounds believable, get a grip mum”. That obviously wouldn’t happen. Kids believe in Santa with all their hearts and souls, they believe in him so unquestionably, that they’ll sit for hours looking out the window on Christmas eve trying to catch a glimpse of him.
Then they learn that Santa isn’t real, and all those years of belief they put into him, were for nothing. That has a pretty lasting impact… Then they go to school, and they quickly learn that being gullible will get you picked on by other kids. So they start to question things before opening their mouths. Creativity and their ability to take leaps of faith, or to trust in themselves or others, quickly starts to die.
Fastforward to now, and most of us are skeptics. We can have an opportunity right in front of us, where every single thing about it is indicating that it’s a brilliant opportunity, yet we’ll still tell ourselves that “It’s probably not as good as it looks”, or “it won’t work as well as I think”. We’ll surpass something great, because we’re too scared of what others might think if we’re wrong or what might happen if we fail.
Don’t be afraid to go for what you believe in.
Let’s get this in perspective. When you see someone else going for something and they fail, do we spend hours of our day laughing at them, ridiculing them, and tormenting them? Or do we look at them, think “unlucky, but at least they tried”, then get on with our day? The worst of us might laugh at them for a few seconds, but deep down still acknowledge that at least they had the guts to try, and then we get on with our days.
The point is this: When we see someone else failing, we really don’t care. We get on with our day, and with our lives. It’s no big deal. So why is it that when we’re about to attempt something ourselves, we have this overwhelming image of thousands of people pointing and laughing and ridiculing us for being idiots if we fail? Why do so many of us drive ourselves into a state of massive anxiety, and completely talk ourselves out of something that we ourslves believe to be a great opportunity? We’re adults now, we’re not kids in a playground anymore. This belief that has been developed from a young age, no longer serves us. We need to shake it, because it’s not real.
So when you decide you want something and then an opportunity presents itself, question it, analyze it, and then listen to your gut. And at that stage if you believe it’s the right thing to do, you go for it. Head first. Don’t talk yourself out of it, don’t let yourself get ruled by fear, and most of all don’t let your imagination run wild with all the terrible things that you think might happen, because they won’t.
What would you do if you were ten times bolder?
I’ve mentioned this a couple of times now, but it’s really helped drive this whole idea home for me lately. When you recognize that you’re about to talk yourself out of something that you want to do because of fear, just ask yourself this question.
Then whatever the answer, that is what you must do. Because all that’s holding you back is fear, and that fear is created inside your own head. And so what if you do fail? You’ll have learned crucial lessons, you had the guts to go for it, and through those lessons next time you’ll be much stronger. If you don’t go for it, you don’t learn the lessons, and you don’t grow.
Fail stands for “First attempt in learning”. Failure is feedback. Always fail forwards, and you’ll always win.
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To your success,