Fear of failure is just fear of success in disguise. That's why if you've ever failed and been discouraged as a result, this column is for you.
When I got divorced, it sucked. I felt like a failure. Fortunately, a friend pushed me to get over it and start thinking like an entrepreneur. He meant: embrace your failures. They're always a prerequisite to success.
I put his theory into practice and decided to try to fail really fast, by committing to date 100 different women in a year. That's a lot of dates, and it was insane, but also a lot of fun. Ultimately, it worked.
(Quick aside: I'd planned to write a book about the whole experience, but I failed again: the proposal didn't sell--at least not yet. What do you think? Should I write it anyway and self-publish it on Kindle or another platform? Let me know. If I wind up going ahead, I'll give you the book for free.)
78 Publishers Who Are Now Kicking Themselves
This all comes to mind after reading that 78 publishers rejected Malon James, an author who went on this week to win one of the world's most prestigious literary awards.
James is the author of A Brief History of Seven Killings, winner of the 2015 Man Booker prize, about the attempted assassination of Bob Marley. Those 78 rejections of his first book, John Crow's Devil, almost killed his spirit. He was so frustrated that he deleted every copy of his manuscript.
When he changed his mind, fortunately he was able to "retriev[e] the text by searching in the email outbox of an old iMac computer," The Guardian reported.
In Excellent Company
Of course, James is just the latest in a long, long list of people who were repeatedly told that their ideas were no good, only to persevere and find great success. You might have heard that J.K. Rowling had the same experience when she was turned down by "loads" of agents before finally publishing the first Harry Potter book. As she explained on Twitter, one agent didn't just refuse to represent her, he also refused to send back the folder in which she'd sent her manuscript.
"I really minded about the folder, because I had almost no money and had to buy another one," she added.
Same thing with Stephen King, Margaret Mitchell (Gone With the Wind)--heck, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen got turned down 140 times before they finally published Chicken Soup for the Soul. It's not just the literary world either. Bill Gates's first company, Traf-O-Data, failed. Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime. Everybody knows that Michael Jordan was cut from his freshman basketball team in high school, and that Steve Jobs was once fired as CEO of Apple (right?).
Fail Like a Champion
The point is: most fear is pointless--and fear of failure is the worst of all. However, if you understand that almost everybody who achieves success has a long tail of failure first, it makes your ultimate success much more likely.
Train yourself to think like this, and failure becomes fun. You can laughingly rack up the "failure points" you absolutely know you'll need to go though before you achieve what you're looking for.
How many failures is enough? I think 100 (at a minimum) sounds like a nice round number. If you give up before hitting it, I'm not sure you can ever say you really, truly tried. Speaking of which: don't forget to let me know about the book.