I am very bad at moving forward.
When I was twelve, I fell in love with a girl at my school. My friends warned me that I didn’t stand a chance: she would never date me. Indeed, I wore round glasses and ugly sweaters that didn’t fit. Harry Potter without the scar, without the magic.
But I had an evil plan. One day I bought her a necklace. I decided to wait for the perfect moment to give it to her. She would instantly fall in love with me.
The perfect moment never happened. She never heard of me.
I got stuck.
The good reason and the real reason
I asked a Google engineer for startup advice.
‘Never get stuck’, he said. I nodded like I do when I don’t understand. But it wasn’t startup advice, it was life advice.
I get stuck all the time.
I want to write the perfect article but haven’t published anything in the last three months.
I want to create the perfect startup. Now, some of my friends are starting their own. I’m not.
I have many good reasons to explain why things don’t go the way I want them to:
- ‘I want to become good at programming before I start a company.’
- ‘I’m waiting for the right cofounder.’
- ‘Things will become easier when I graduate.’
A man always has two reasons for doing anything: a good reason and the real reason. —J.P. Morgan
Wait, wait, wait. There is always a good reason to wait. But as good as this reason might be, it’s never the real one.
Fear is the real reason
I read that no matter what you do, a third of people will like you, a third will hate you and a third won’t care.
Problem: I want everybody to love me. Failure doesn’t scare me, it’s looking like a failure that does.
Nothing is ever perfect. Even my Macbook has its flaws (and Steve Jobs designed it). Doing things perfectly is a good way of not doing anything.
Nothing is ever perfect so I hesitate. Ironically, I’m having the worst trouble publishing an article that talks about not getting stuck.
This is getting stuck.
It’s never about skills, experience or money. It’s always about fear. Fear of being rejected, of looking like an idiot, of not being cool.
Fear of being alone.
Fear is useful
There is no point in waiting for the perfect moment. There is no such thing as a perfect moment.
Picture two guys: the first one reads a hundred dating books. The other one talks to a hundred girls. Which one is more likely to find himself a girlfriend?
Rejection is the key to achieving your goals. It means you’re actually doing something useful. Fear is a signal that what you are doing is worth it.
Still, a lot goes through my mind when I do what scares me:
I should grow up and get a normal job.
There is no way this girl likes me.
It’s easy to give up. When that happens, I try to think about the things that I will remember when I’m old.
I won’t remember the hours spent playing FIFA in my living room.
I won’t remember the things that I didn’t do.
I will remember the scary, the hilarious, the unexpected. The fear of hitting ‘Publish’ and putting my thoughts out there for everyone to love, hate or ignore them.
So I’m hitting ‘Publish’.
When your time comes, you won’t remember how you increased revenue in Q1. You will remember the unusual things that pushed you forward. When you decided that you didn’t want to wait to do what matters.
When I was fourteen, I fell in love with another girl at my school. I had learned my lesson. With my whole body shaking, I went to her and said:
“I’m in love with you.”
It was the scariest moment of my life.
Until she said: “Me too.”
And I realized nothing would ever be the same again.