Every successful person does something that absolutely terrifies them. Whether it’s public speaking or giving your boss a resignation letter, no one has ever made it to the other side without taking a stumbling leap of faith.
But how do we deal with those monsters and demons that pop up at every corner telling us that we’ll never make it, that we’re not good enough, that we don’t have what it takes?
Answer: You suppress the hell out of it.
I’m not talking about lying to yourself or losing touch with reality. I’m talking about deliberately steering the direction of your mind during high-pressure situations. You know that expression people say whenever someone is on a tightrope or high in the air? Those 3 little words of advice that people have used over and over again – “Don’t Look Down”. You don’t ignore the danger or pretend that you’re not a thousand feet in the air. But you do put one foot in front of the other and stay focused on where you’re going. If you forget to “Don’t Look Down”, you draw your attention away from the goal and head straight towards failure.
Adam Carolla, who holds the record for Most Downloaded Podcast Ever, once said “My job is to talk like nobody is listening”. We should all be that lucky to adopt a life-philosophy as freeing as this. Pretend your actions are being completely ignored. Pretend that no one is around to judge you. A networking opportunity is a thousand times easier when you have nothing to gain. A product release is a million times more fun when you have nothing to lose. Pretend that no one is listening.
The most loved and popular people in the world also receive the most hate-mail.
To focus on negative outcomes and hurtful criticism is a good way to ensure failure. Giving power to our doubts is an invitation for our feet to slip off the tightrope.
I used to think that my fears meant something. I used to think it was important to ‘get to the bottom’ of these negative thoughts and find out where they were coming from. I was wrong. Like George Clooney said in Three Kings, “The way it works is, you do the thing you’re scared shitless of, and you get the courage AFTER you do it, not before.”
So whatever it is you’re worried about – horrifying failure, people who don’t like you, or plummeting to your own gruesome death – suppress that shit and move forward.
And when you make it to the other side, remember to pat yourself on the back and take a deep breath.