Don't Sell Yourself Short

What separates you from highly effective, successful people? I’ve asked myself this question many times. In my case, the answer can be summed up in one word: initiative. 

I’m perhaps more successful than 99% of the population, but I haven’t had the impact on the world that I’ve dreamed of having. A lot of people like me dream of having an impact on the world but never do. If all of the ideas that remain trapped in our minds could be realized, we’d all be healthier, happier and richer. By “all” I mean everyone on earth.

I know I have ideas just as good as any successful billionaire entrepreneur. But how do I act on them? That’s the question. That’s the crux of the problem for every one of us. That one word, initiative.

I really hate fear. I’ve been timid my whole life and it sucks. Before I broke into the advertising business, I had to make the first calls to creative directors and ask them to see my portfolio. That was tough for me. It seems pathetic now when I think back on it. But in some ways I’m still struggling with apprehension. I envy those who can just walk up to the high dive and jump off without a second thought. I was one who stood at the edge of the diving board and just looked down fearfully. The longer I stood there, the scarier it became. 

One method that has helped me to get past the apprehension and take initiative is this:
I state my intentions publicly.

I’ve heard arguments against this method, but it’s worked for me. Much like Hernán Cortés, when he scuttled his ships to prevent his men from retreating during their conquest of the Aztecs, declaring my goals publicly makes me feel more accountable. If I back down then I risk humiliation. 

Another method I use is priming my subconscious by constantly repeating my stated goal to myself, by saying, “I can and will do this.” Some call it an affirmation. It has almost magical powers.

Also, for inspiration, I’ve remembered these two statements, made by Napoleon Hill:

"The power of thought is the only thing over which any human being has complete unquestionable means of control."


"Greatness is the ability to recognize the power of your own mind. To embrace it and use it."

The key words above are “use it.” I truly believe anyone can do anything. We may all have different obstacles and handicaps. But so did a lot of successful people. Our own greatest obstacle is procrastination.

Whatever your dream is, you can accomplish it. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But you must take action. 

You are not alone in your hesitancy to take this step. Everyone hesitates. Only a tiny fraction of people ever go for it. But there’s never been an easier time in history to start something. Even just a side business or worthy cause. Let’s make a bigger impact on the world. 

(Giant caveat: whatever you pursue, just make sure it’s something you can do well. Don’t expect success if you suck at it.)