Confidence required

Confidence required

By Derek Sivers

Most of the time, we are working hard, head down, using what we know.

We get better and better at it. We make little improvements, and keep working. Our expertise(ˌekspərˈtēz) and confidence keeps increasing.

We can’t afford to stop and question everything. We can’t go back to school. We have work to do.

Until we don’t.

Last year I left my company, and decided to start a new one.

I wanted to replace my old thoughts with new ones. I had been working hard, doing one thing in one mindset for ten years, and needed to install a new operating system in my brain.

I read a lot of books on business, social psychology(sīˈkäləjē), management, behavioral economics(ˌekəˈnämiks), investing, cognitive biases, crowds, marketing, networking, learning, and communication.

But each book that made me feel smarter (“Aha! I think I understand the world better now!”) also made me feel dumber(dəm) (“Wow, I’ve been an idiot(ˈidēət). It’s surprising I survived at all.”)

It was all very humbling(ˈhəmbəl).

So humbling, that I found it hard to do anything at all.

After all I’ve learned, I can’t believe anyone actually thinks they’ll succeed in the complex world of business. Don’t they see all the really smart people who have tried and failed?

I can’t believe how foolish I was to start my first company. Just me in my bedroom with no experience, making a little website, when I was up against(əˈɡenst) giant(ˈjīənt) IPO-funded competitors(kəmˈpedədər).

I was an over-confident punk, thinking I had the answer, and everyone else didn’t.

But it worked.

And in fact, isn’t that kind of confidence absolutely required to get anything done?

Isn’t the role of the entrepreneur to be the bold, daring(ˈderiNG), audacious(ôˈdāSHəs) one? The over-confident reckless(ˈrekləs) one who says, “Screw(skro͞o) it. Let’s do it!”?

Yes! Of course! It’s the essential final lesson: that all this learning means nothing until you make something happen.

Whether you think you’ll win or not, you need to jump in the game, and say, “Let’s go!”

Whether your confidence is naïve(nīˈēv), inspired, or crafted, you need its high-horsepower(ˈhôrsˌpou(ə)r) engine to get uphill and go anywhere.

And no matter how humbling the lessons of life are, this final lesson is the most important of all.

Time to go make something happen.