Let me ask you a question, what was the last thing you talked yourself out of doing? Was it maybe applying for a dream job or even starting your own company? Was it asking someone you admire for guidance and mentorship? Or was it some amazing idea, like take a year off to travel, that popped into your head and then left just as quickly?
Whatever it was, you probably talked yourself out of it with a version of “What’s the point, it won’t work out.” How do I know this? I see this all the time as a public speaking consultant. Powerful players who thrive on success and then refuse to step out of their comfort zone because they might fail.
My prescription to this ailment – fail once a day. Go for something so audacious that there’s no way you’ll succeed, but instead of “What’s the point” change your self-talk to “Let’s see what I can get away with?”
For my own clients, I give “fear challenge” homework like strike up a conversation with a stranger while acting as someone ten times more confident than you really feel. Or propose to give a talk at work or at a conference. Or even contact your local television station with a pitch.
To get started, ask for a discount at Starbucks, email TED organizers and offer to give a talk, ask to test drive a Lamborghini, or apply for a job at NASA.
Scary? Yes. But these challenges teach an important lesson. Rejection is hard but it doesn’t kill you. When you’re going for something you really truly want, a no may feel like a punch in the gut. Almost like being told “Who are you to ask for this and what makes you think you deserve it?” It’s way safer to just not go for it, right? To talk yourself out of it.
But for every opportunity you talk yourself out of, there’s someone who is willing to go for it, leaving you thinking “Wait, that could have been me!” You have to train that rejection and failure muscle, and what better way to do that than by being proactive. Yes, you’ll probably be rejected by NASA. No, you probably won’t be invited to give a TED talk. And maybe you’ll get that Starbucks discount, but it’s okay if you don’t.
Rejection isn’t personal. It just means that whatever you proposed did not work out. When you fail at something audacious it’s easy to not take it personally. And if you keep building that muscle, you’ll see that going for something you truly want – and failing is not the end of the world. It may be disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world. Suddenly, applying for that cool job or asking someone out seems like a doable feat. And who knows, you just might get away with it.
I’m sure you’ve heard “failure is not an option” but I want you to flip the script. Failure is a stepping stone to success. It means that you stretched yourself out of your comfort zone and you tried something that you don’t know how to do yet. And I say Bravo to that.
Happy New Year!
Public Speaking and Confidence Coach
PS – my big and audacious goal – sail around the world with my young family.