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4 - What’s Stopping You?

Align all eight of the essentials—intent, authenticity, passion, patience, speed, work ethic, ability to track consumer attention and master social platforms, and content—and you have the closest thing to a formula for crushing it that I can offer. Yet I know that even a so-called formula won’t be enough to get some of you into do mode. Every day I meet people who swear they are going to start their own “thing.” Most won’t. I asked my team to give me a list of the most common reasons they’ve heard, whether in the comments sections of our content or in their interactions with other aspiring entrepreneurs, for failing to crush it. Here’s what they came up with: I have a full-time job.

I don’t have any money.

I have kids.

I don’t have time.

My industry has too many strict rules.

I have an idea for an app, but I don’t know how to code.

My parents don’t get it.

My family is holding me back.

I’m afraid my friends will get ahead of me.

I still haven’t finished the books assigned by my life coach.

No one was watching.

Only a few people were reading.

I don’t know which idea to pursue.

I don’t have the right equipment.

I don’t know where to start.

I’m too old.

I’m an artist, not a businessperson.

I’m not into anything monetizable.

I’m afraid I’ll get hate comments.

Every one of these is bullshit, and some belong in the category of “Are you fucking kidding me?” Of the hundred or so finalists we considered before winnowing the list of Crushing It! contributors down to the ones we included in this book, only a handful were bringing in more than a moderate income at the time they decided to go all in and crush it. Many were flat broke or barely making ends meet. Several had young children, and others were old enough to be grandparents. A number had already failed at previous attempts to build businesses. At least three had served jail time. You can write these examples off as anecdotal, but remember, we received so many responses that we couldn’t possibly include them all. If hundreds of thousands of people can figure out a way to crush it, isn’t it possible that you could, too? Isn’t it at least worth a try?

About the hate mail. Yes, there are hateful people out there who are pissed off because they’re not doing shit, and you will likely hear from them, especially, as photographer Jared Polin points out, if you succeed. Don’t let them keep you quiet, or as Polin also says, “Fuck the naysayers.” Sometimes it can be hard, and some people will get more hurtful or inappropriate feedback than others. Women will have a different experience on social media than most men will. Surely you already know that many, many dudes are scum buckets. Then there are the run-of-the-mill insults that can come from anyone: You’re ugly. You’re stupid. You’re not all that. Want to know how the best influencers handle that crap? They ignore it or they confront it. In fact, you probably haven’t made it big until you’ve read aloud your hate mail in a post. Hell, Taylor Swift wrote a number-one song about it. Misogyny, racism, and bigotry are very real problems, but they are not the reason why you’re not crushing it yet. You are the reason why you’re not crushing it yet. For real, when the haters come at you, just shake it the fuck off. You know they’re not crushing it because they’ve got time to waste spewing poison at you. You should pity them. If you really want to show what you’re made of, transform their ignorance into phenomenal content for your fans.

Social media and technology haven’t made the world any worse than it was before. They don’t change us; they expose us. And that’s not a bad thing. We’re always more effective against the demons we know and can identify than the ones hiding in the dark. All the reasons people throw out to justify why they’re not doing what they say they want to do boil down to one of three kinds of fear, each of which requires a different response.

Fear of Failure

Well, that’s what people say they’re afraid of, anyway. I think what they’re really afraid of is being judged by people whose opinions mean something to them.

I’m not going to minimize this. I know it well. I don’t give a crap what people think, and yet there are days when I will go to ridiculous lengths to turn around someone’s negative opinion of me because I care equally what everybody thinks about me. Believe me, I get it, especially if you’re worried about justifying yourself to your family. I have the most supportive family in the world, and even I occasionally get razzed when one of my investments fails or something doesn’t go the way I predict it will. So I can totally understand how devastating it would be to learn that you’ve disappointed your mom, earned the scorn of your siblings, or been dismissed by your closest friends. But you are just going to have to find a way to get over it. Get a shrink, start practicing yoga, find a hypnotist, do whatever it takes to settle your nerves, embrace the moment, and stop caring what other people think. Commit to ignoring every single voice that threatens to undermine you. If it’s your mom, find a respectful way to tell her you want her love but not her opinion. If it’s your friends, tell them you are grateful for their concern but they have to choose to support you or fuck off. The only person you can’t ignore is your spouse if you have one. The way around that is to work with your husband or wife to come up with a plan that you can both live with. There will always be people around you to tell you not to do things. You have to let yourself be your sole judge and jury.

In my experience, good communication solves all things. I advise everyone in this predicament to confront the problem head-on. Sit down with the people you care most about and say, “I am going to do something I should have done ages ago. The only thing that stopped me was my fear of what you’d say, but you need to know that I’m over that now. I don’t need your blessing, but I do need to know that I will have your support when I fail. Because I will. Not spectacularly, I hope, but definitely in the short term. In the long term, though, I’m going to win, and it would mean the world to me to know you’ve got my back and are hoping for my success, not waiting for my failure.” Then, no matter how they respond, start. Just like that. You’ll be amazed how quickly you can work when you’re no longer tethered by the tyranny of other people’s opinions. People who are afraid to fail will always set their goals far lower than they need to, much to the delight of their competitors.

No one who played it safe ever made it big. This is your life, and I promise you the chances of truly ruining it are slim. Short of self-destructive behavior or a complete lack of self-awareness, there is very, very little you can do that you cannot recover from. Be clear-eyed and strategic, be willing to work harder and longer than you ever have in your life, and you won’t disappoint anyone. In fact, I predict you’ll surprise everyone.

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