Believing In Yourself

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In the startup world it is said that if you are not ashamed of your first product, you released too late. To make it big you have to aim bigger than what you have resources for. You have to believe in yourself even when the world laughs at you or, worse, doesn't notice you.


Sylvester Stallone was born with partial facial paralysis due to the unprofessionalism of the obstetricians who dragged him out of his mom's womb using forceps. He struggled through life: bullied at school, attended over 14 schools, had to take up a despicable movie role at age of 24 being homeless and having slept in a bus station for 3 weeks, and while writing the script for Rocky his wife was pregnant, he had only $106 in the bank, his dog was starving and he couldn't pay his rent. But his belief in himself was stellar, he kept pushing forward and he eventually hit his goal with that movie, Rocky. I particularly love the way he explained it to a journalist on November 1, 1976:

"There are certain parallels: Rocky had drive, and intelligence, and the talent to be a fighter, but nobody noticed him. Then when opportunity knocked, everybody said, 'Hey, there's Rocky, he's good.' That's what happened to me. The fact that we both went the distance when we were finally given the opportunity, that's the main parallel.
''It's funny, there's a great herd of people who were holding back compliments for years that are now coming forth and saying, 'I like you.' It happened to Rocky, too. I feel like saying to them, 'Where were you when I was living in Hotel Barf, eating hot and cold running disease?' They say, 'Oh, we were holding it back, Sly [Sylvester], because we didn't want you to get a swelled head.'''

Then there is Roman Abramovich who lost his mum before the age of 2 and his dad at age 4, and didn't get a university degree. He believed in himself and while Russia was in turmoil he began building a small trading business. Now he owns Chelsea Football Club and is the 50th richest man in the world.
So how do you believe in yourself?

I'll start with what believing in yourself is not. Believing in yourself is not in not exposing your work for fear of criticism or fear of failure. No. Having that kind of attitude and expecting to make it big someday is simply wishing. Believing in yourself is acting like Sylvester Stallone, going all out and putting the extra effort in your work. Not wishing or waiting for an angel. You have to put your work out there, take the criticism, horn your craft, be prodigious and always focus on what matters.

The world is filled with people who stumbled on success. They write a book that amazingly became a bestseller, then they spend the rest of their lives talking to TV cameras and large crowds. They don't write more books. The people who believe in themselves don't stumble into success (or stay that way), they keep writing books like their life depends on it. They write till the day they die. They are people like James Patterson. Believing in yourself is in not resting on your oars but going for the seemingly impossible. Believing in yourself is in disregarding the society and the resources at your disposal, like Roman Abramovich, and going for whatever you want. That is believing in yourself.


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