If you have ever been to a seminar about personal development, wealth creation, investment, Internet marketing or business (and I stopped counting them some time ago), you have heard the following resounding statement:
If I can do it, anybody can
This is typically said at the end of a story of how the presenter has clawed his or her way from extreme poverty, shame and rejection to the stellar success that forms the basis of the whole seminar. Some of these presenters look like pretty normal people, even if they dress up a bit more than their audience, so why not believe them?
Because everybody can IN THEORY. Sure, everybody can retrace the presenter’s steps and, if everything also happens the same way, make lots of money and become really successful and happy.
Oh, wait. What if it does not happen to me the same way?
Exactly! This question appears in most people’s minds as soon as they start thinking about applying all those wonderful tips and methods to themselves and their own life.
You see, when a person stands on stage, having made lots of money, it is easy to imagine them having the same confidence when they first started out. But they did not have it, and it dawns on us as soon as we shift our focus to us.
Typical questions that follow are, “He’s not telling us about all the deals that went wrong”, “I wonder if she’s married and has kids with all that global travel she’s doing” and “I bet there are many others who started out just the same and blew it, but of course they are not standing here on stage, are they?”
What attracts us to these seminars is the reward – success, money, wisdom, happiness, status and an easy life. We believe the expert is going to give us a bulletproof way to make it and to make it BIG. We just need to listen well, take good notes and work their method.
But what then makes us not follow through is the risk – failure, hard times and stress. Coming from an emotional position of lack, we project that into our future and see ourselves only sinking deeper.
Of course, this does not apply to everyone, because some people overcome their fear and change their lives, but for most, that fear of the risk and that vision of what can go wrong are paralyzing. Worse yet, I have seen people become paralyzed after they have paid thousands of dollars for the expert’s program and were not going to get their money back.
Yesterday, I saw a great example of this. I went to a networking event that featured a property expert named Rob. Rob is a local guy, but he has done well in property. Now, Rob helps other people invest in property, which made him very interesting to everybody else in the room.
Rob described a method of making several tens of thousands of dollars in profit from property in 6-18 months. The initial investment (the risk) was about $2,000 and Rob would help find the right property and close the relevant deals (additional risk of $3,000, but the chance of failure minimized through his expertise and self-evident success).
Would you risk $5,000 to make $90,000 in one year?
Most people will not.
Most people know very well what it means for them to spend $5,000 right now, but they do not trust the expert enough or have enough experience themselves with making $90,000 on a single property deal in one year. So they will be paralyzed, do nothing and become a little bit more frustrated that another opportunity has just become unrealistic for them.
Why am I telling you all this?
Because I want you to stop criticizing yourself for not taking action on those experts’ advice. It is simply NOT true that anyone can do it. Having something to lose is by far a stronger motivation than having something to gain. We are familiar with the things we have and we care about them. The things we want are only imaginary.
But I also want you to start thinking that maybe you cannot do it YET. Just because you are where you are right now does not mean you will be there forever (or until you die, whichever happens first).
Life goes on and you can grow and build your confidence one success at a time, no matter how small, until you can allow yourself a small leap of faith. If that leap of faith pays off, it will also become a leap of confidence and you will be able to tolerate a bit more risk next time. If it does not pay off, you will have to keep living and keep growing until you can try again.
While he was telling his stories of success, Rob mentioned “pooling” his own money with that of his father and his brother. They also “pooled” their work and renovated properties together. But the real thing they shared was the risk. They were willing to share the rewards at the end, but upfront, they shared the risk, so that each of them can cope with the emotional burden of uncertainty and anxiety.
I believe it is normal to be afraid of risks. It is actually quite useful in many cases, because it prevents us from doing every stupid thing that pops into our heads. So when you feel unable to do something big, open your eyes and face your risk. Then, you may be able to overcome it somehow, but if not, at least you will know what stopped you and come to terms with it.
Now, this might all seem to be related to general personal development, investment or business, but it applies to parenting as well in two ways.
First, parenting adds a lot to the risk of any big change.
A single person can always work a few more hours or live somewhere cheaper for a while. A single person does not have to worry about setting an example to anyone. But a parent must first consider the wellbeing of his or her kids, the effect of any decision on their survival, education and lifestyle. A parent also needs to be a role model for making good decisions and for being responsible.
Second, the decision to become a parent is one of the greatest risks anyone can take. What is losing $2,000 compared to losing a child? What is missing a good deal compared to not being able to take care of your kids?
This means you CAN handle risk, because you have done it before in one of the most important ways anyone can. You have probably also had support from family, friends and others in raising your children and you knew they would be there when you decided to become a parent.
So I say relax, focus on your next step and build on your successes. Do not be tempted by others’ promises. Live your own life instead and make the most of it. When you are ready, the universe will present plenty of opportunities you can take.