Tim Ferriss wasn't always Tim Ferriss. I should know; I knew him before he became widely known as an author, entrepreneur, investor, speaker, and podcaster extraordinaire.
Years ago, Elance asked me to interview Ferriss for its blog a month or two prior to the release of The 4-Hour Workweek. Some of the articles I did for Elance featured freelancers with inspirational stories (meaning freelancers who had landed lots of projects). Others featured companies that had outsourced large, complex projects (meaning they posted high-paying freelance tasks).
Ferriss was a little of the first camp, since he had hired freelancers, but, just as important, he was a huge advocate for the power of outsourcing.
Even so, Elance didn't feel Ferriss was noteworthy enough to deserve his own article, so I was asked to combine his interview with one for another writer whose book on outsourcing was also about to be published. (Unfortunately, I can't remember the author's name, and even though the internet is theoretically forever, the article I eventually wrote has disappeared.)
I interviewed the first author. On an interview scale of 1 to 10, he was a solid 7.
Then I talked to Ferriss.
Tim was a 20.
He knew his material cold, but not in an overprepared, talking-point-heavy way. He was relaxed and confident. He was quick without seeming rushed. He was smart without seeming cocky. He was entertaining and engaging. He took control of the interview so smoothly that I didn't mind a bit.
I talked to my contact at Elance. "Tim's material is so good," I said, "that he should get his own article."
She disagreed. "Tim's just a guy," she said, "who has been coming around here hoping we will help promote his book. Give him a paragraph or two."
I pushed back. "He has really good stuff," I said. "He's perfect for your audience. What if I write a full article and let you review it; if you don't like it, I won't charge you for it?"
"Nope," she said. "Two or three paragraphs on Tim is plenty."
I still went longer than a few paragraphs, but also left out how Ferriss outsourced his dating life, using virtual assistants to craft his profile, respond to inquiries, and even make dates on his behalf. (Tim went on the actual dates, his commitment to outsourcing only going so far.) He did that partly to show the breadth of outsourcing possibilities, but also as a savvy marketing move -- he knew that being able to say "And coming up next, the guy who actually outsourced his dating life" would be like catnip to morning talk show hosts.
I left out the part about finding not just what you like to do, but what you do that creates the most value (read revenue), and how to streamline your workday and tasks so you spend the maximum time possible doing what benefits you the most.
I left out a lot of stuff -- his innovative approaches to marketing, his uncanny ability to strip away the chaff to find the wheat, his smart takes on work and life and personal fulfillment ... He was already Tim Ferriss.
But no one knew it.
The same is true for you.
Sometimes, it seems like no one recognizes your skills. Sometimes, it seems like no one recognizes your talent. Sometimes, it seems like no one sees -- or ever will see -- your true potential.
You will be ignored. Everyone was. You will be rejected. Everyone was. You will fail. That's OK: Every successful person has failed, numerous times -- most of them have failed a lot more often than you. That's why they are successful now.
Embrace every failure. Embrace every rejection. Own it, learn from it, and take full responsibility for making sure that next time, things will turn out differently.
Tim Ferriss wasn't always Tim Ferriss.
And if you keep grinding, if you keep working to improve and progress and become an even better version of who you already are ...
You will become you.