The journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step. This ancient Chinese proverb has as much rich meaning today as when it was first uttered. Nothing you aim to do or wish to achieve is ever going to happen unless you take a first step.
One of the biggest issues that faces the modern entrepreneur — regardless of age — is a belief in themselves. Perhaps that rings true for you. It certainly has for me.
You have these incredible ideas, an innovative thought or design in your head for a product or service that could benefit other people. Maybe you just want to be your own boss, no longer punching in and out at regular 9-to-5 hours.
Whatever it is that pulls on you, nudges you, whispers to you in the dark of night, one of the gravest tragedies I can think of is the constant and repetitive failure of millions of people who have these amazing ideas but never do anything about them.
Why People Give Up Before They Start
We can sit here and wax poetic about all the incredible innovators who have come and gone throughout history, extol their virtues and study their behaviors, but that comes later.
Right now, what we need to focus on is the reason so many of us tend to give up and not even try. I’m not even talking about quitting a couple of weeks into your efforts. I’m talking about not even starting.
In fact, if you were to look at the numbers of people who actually try to start their own business and break out on their own compared to those who wished they did, you would see an incredible reality: Most people who dream about starting their own business or being their own boss never even make an effort.
Why is that?
Mostly, it’s about belief. If a person doesn’t believe in themselves if they honestly don’t think their entrepreneurial dreams can even become a reality, what’s the point in starting?
The bottom line is they don’t believe. What don’t they believe?
In the dream? In themselves? In their talents? In their skills and knowledge and education?
It could be one or all of those issues. But, lacking belief is the biggest killer of dreams throughout history. You simply won’t find successful entrepreneurs, inventors, and innovators who gave up or didn’t even try.
You never hear about them. Why? Because they didn’t do anything about their dreams. We look throughout history and see the Newtons, Teslas, and even Jobs, but guess what? There may have very well been more talented, knowledgeable, innovative minds out there who never even tried.
That’s the difference-maker. You could very well be the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, but if you never try, if you simply believe it’s not going to work or be possible, then how would the world know?
Simply put: It won’t. So, what drives this giving up before taking the first step on any journey?
Is it a fear of failure? Probably. Could it be a fear of success? That is certainly possible. What about fear of the unknown?
That Feeling of Failure … Before You Even Start?!
You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? You have this deep-seated feeling that you are going to fail. That’s normal. That’s natural.
In fact, depending on what type of dream you are planning to pursue, the odds are stacked against success. But there’s a catch.
It’s true that greater than 90 percent of all first-time businesses that open up will close within five years. Why? Because of mistakes, a lack of belief on the part of the business owner, and poor planning.
We can overcome most of those issues right out of the gate. We don’t have to succumb to failure before you even get started. Yet, that sense of foreboding, this nagging at the back of your skull, this little whisper in your head saying, “You can’t do this, what in the world are you thinking?” Those things are powerful.
When you have a feeling of failure, as though no matter what you do it’s never going to work out, guess what?
You are far less likely to get started. This is why belief is so important. You absolutely must have faith in yourself.
What Does It Mean to Have Faith?
I want to take a few moments and discuss what faith really means. It isn’t believing in something you can see; it’s believing in something you can’t see, but knowing it’s still true.
This can be incredibly convoluted in our modern society where people mock others for their faith, whether it’s about religion, politics, business, themselves, or anything else.
Don’t get caught up in the worldly chatter about what faith is. You haven’t seen yourself as a successful business owner before. Or, maybe you tried something a few years ago, set out to experiment with your entrepreneurial dreams, but it didn’t work out.
You see, if you already found success as an entrepreneur, you probably wouldn’t be sitting here reading this story and trying to gain inspiration to do it again. You already know that it was possible before and you can do it again, regardless of your age.
You need to have genuine faith in yourself. You must be able to reach a point in your mind and your heart that tells you, “I can do this!”
That is the unequivocal truth. You can do this. Now, it’s not as easy as simply saying you need to have faith in order to capture it. You have to develop it.
This is one of the most fundamental mistakes I see entrepreneurial-minded people make time and time again. They think faith and belief in themselves comes in a magic bottle or a pill they can swallow and — voilà — there it is.
That’s not how it works. It is a skill you have to develop over time.
How Can You Develop Faith?
First, I need you to look back on the course of your life up until this point in time and evaluate it honestly. You have probably experienced plenty of failures, haven’t you?
Sure, you could have been in the top of your class in high school, did quite well in college, or flunked out. It doesn’t really matter. There are still going to be things you struggled with.
There are also plenty of things to be proud about. You had successes, just as you had failures. Some of the successes might’ve been on the sports field or in academics. Maybe it was at one of your earliest jobs where you impressed your boss and she gave you a “Great job” and a pat on the back.
Perhaps you’re in your mid-40s or 50s and have been stuck in middle management or even more general labor for the majority of your adult life. That’s not a failure! The failure would’ve been to give up and stop working, decide to rely on others to take care of you.
If that’s been the case for your life so far, guess what? You’re still alive. Maybe you’re divorced, struggling financially, or feel hopeless at times. I don’t want you to focus on those things right now, but rather take an honest, cumulative assessment of your life.
What I want you to focus on most are the successes, the little victories. Most of us have a tendency to forget them. It’s easy to focus on the failures, mistakes, the broken dreams, the broken hearts, the failed tests, and so much more than it is to focus on the successes.
It’s okay for you to revisit with some of those, but when they creep into your mind, shove them out, stuff them in a room and slam the door shut. I don’t want you thinking about those. Not now.
They will come in handy later.
For the moment, focus on the successes. If you have children, think about their smiles. Remember the way they say, “I love you.” Consider a great relationship you had in the past. Maybe it failed, but what was it like in the beginning?
What about a test or a report or essay you were actually certain you were going to bomb on, but you got a good grade? Every little thing is important right now.
When you start stacking up those things that seemed so inconsequential at the moment, you begin to see a pattern.
Success can happen for you. You are smart enough and skilled enough and talented enough to do this. Whatever “this” is, you have the ability.
But, it’s not even really dependent on those things per se. What drives success more than anything else in the world — more than intelligence, education, and even experience — is determination.
It’s that determination to keep pushing -even when everyone else around you is telling you can’t do it, it’s not possible, it simply won’t work- that makes winners.
Read autobiographies of some of the world’s best entrepreneurs. Watch some great movies. You will see how the ones who made the biggest impact on the world around them (and I’m not talking about globally, but in your family, circle of friends, or community) are the ones who kept pushing forward, even when everyone else around them said it was impossible.
That raw determination comes from faith. It comes from an incessant belief that you can do this, that what you have in your mind can actually become a reality.
But you won’t get there if you constantly and only focus on the mistakes and failures of your life. That’s why I need you to seal them away for now and instead keep your attention fixed on the successes and a little victories you had all along.
Will You Fail?
Most likely, yes. Even those incredibly successful entrepreneurs I just intimated about have faced the very real possibility that what they were driving after could fail.
But consider what Thomas Edison once told a reporter during the seemingly endless years trying to invent a working lightbulb. When asked about why he kept pushing on, even though he failed so many times, he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Don’t get so caught up trying to avoid thoughts of potential failure. Just don’t think about past failures.
That’s how you’ll be able to increase faith in yourself. When you develop key faith muscles in your heart and mind, belief that you can truly accomplish whatever it is you set your mind to becomes stronger.
You are facing a long journey. You need to take that first step. And, if you develop the faith to believe in yourself, regardless of what anyone else says, guess what?
You’ve already started!