Is Self-belief Important For Success?

So life is full of contradictions and here’s another to get your head around.

And it’s the idea of believing in yourself.

We’re taught that we should develop confidence.
That if you believe in yourself enough then you’ll make it.

Just think about that for a minute.

How are you supposed to be able to believe that you can write a book until you’ve actually written one?

Because you’ve never done it before!

There’s actually a time in your life when you’ve never done anything.

There we are crawling around on the floor looking at all the other people who are walking, and we haven’t walked so what would make you think that you could walk?

Luckily our minds aren’t developed enough at that stage to be actually thinking. We’re primarily a feeling being in the first couple years of our life. We see what’s going on so we just aspire to it.

We start to copy.

We copy the model that’s in front of us.

We just get in and have a go.

Basically I think that belief in yourself is impossible. And I think that we’re asking ourselves to do the impossible by saying, “If I could believe in myself I could do this better.” I don’t think that’s actually true (I think that’s just we use to calm ourselves down).

Take me for example…

As you might know I’ve written a couple books.

The truth is I left high school with the impression that I was one of the dumb-asses. I didn’t go on and become a schoolteacher because that was a career I was aiming at. I just fell into that by accident. I knew that I had very limited intelligence or ability compared to all the people around me. Maybe they believed in themselves. Maybe they were confident. But I wasn’t.

What I found was I didn’t have to have confidence to succeed at something.

What I had to do was I had to have a go.

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So even though I’ve written a book or two or three, I never really wrapped my brain around the fact that I could write a book.

(By the way, my latest book Fearless outlines exactly how you can bust through the fear that might stop you from having a go – check it out here).

What I did wrap my head around was that I could write a paragraph.
Which meant I could probably write an essay.

So I had a go.

My first attempt was to write something about self-image, and its effect on human beings and that kind of thing. Then I thought, “I’ll write some more essays”.

It was a lot of very, very baby steps but one day they all came together and I thought, “Bugger, this, I’ll put them together and call them a book.”

By the time I had that first book done I was sick of it. My wife Mary and Karen, who worked for us at the time, they fixed it up. The fact that the book is readable has really got nothing to do with me and everything to do with them.

But I started the process.

I had a go.

I think I’d still be entitled to say that I don’t have any confidence about writing a book (in fact I’ve been resisting the process as much as I can at the moment).

So what I recommend is have a go at something knowing that you’re hopeless at predicting whether you’re going to succeed or not.

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(What we tend to do is we predict failure as if it’s written in stone rather than this whole have a go concept).

I don’t think we need belief in ourselves, but we’re being taught that we have to have it. We’ve been taught that you have to believe in yourself, and I think that’s bullshit.

To give you another example, I tell the story quite often about how they train real estate agents, and the truth is if you wanted to make a fortune you could do this tomorrow. You go and you knock on a real estate agent’s door and you say, “I want to learn real estate.”

They say, “Okay, in you come. Dress yourself in a suit, and here’s what we’re going to do. You’re going to walk down the street, and you’re going to knock on a hundred doors. You’re going to ask everybody who answers the door do they want to list their house for sale.”

Most people at that point quit real estate, because they’re just not ready for the rejection.

What they don’t do is they don’t realize, “Hang on a second. This is not rejection. This is me knocking on people’s doors and saying, ‘Do you want to sell your house?'”

Because if you stick with it, what you’ll find is that two out of those hundred people will say, ‘Isn’t that weird. There must be a god. Just last night we were talking about selling the house, and now you knock on the door. You’re a messenger from the universe. Come on in.'”

Now that’s going to happen whether you dressed nice or dressed whatever, whether you’re handsome, whether you’re ugly, whether you speak English or not, that kind of thing.

What we understand is that two out of every hundred people are going to say yes. So then we send the listing agent around and they give them an evaluation on the house.

Now fifty percent of the listing agents get fifty percent of their presentations. The two people who said, “Yeah, let’s look at it,” one of them goes ahead, and the other doesn’t. The listing agent doesn’t go out and shoot themselves. They realize that they’re going to get fifty percent so all we need is plenty of people knocking on doors and we’re going to be right. That’s pretty much the story.

Now what it means is that we’ve got one sale, and let’s say the commission’s twenty grand for selling the house. Half of that goes to the agency, and half of what’s left goes to the listing agent and the person knocking on the door.

As far as I can tell what it means is that you’ve got five grand that day for knocking on doors.

Now where else are you going to get five grand a day for doing something so simple? Sure you’ve got wait until the house sells and then until it settles, and whatever, but, hello, five grand a day for knocking on doors.

What’s interesting is if we say, “All right, I’ll tell you what. You go down one side of the street knocking on doors, and we’re going to send an eight-year-old down on the other said of the street. Your job is to keep an eye on them, but you and the eight-year-old are going to get to the other end of the street round about the same time.”

Do you reckon the eight-year-old’s going to get more listing or less listings than you?

Well, it’s probably going to be the same. If anyone’s going to win it’s going to be them because they’re cute. That’s how much our intelligence is required. The eight-year-old’s going to beat us. It’s going to be the same, but if anyone’s going to beat us it’s going to be the eight-year-old because they’re cute.

Now what if we take you out of the picture, and we get a trained monkey. The trained monkey knocks on the door and hands over a card that says, “You want to sell your house?” The trained monkey’s going to do better than the eight-year-old because the trained monkey’s cuter.

How much does the trained monkey believe in itself?

Truth is they probably don’t think about it.

And what about the eight year old. How much does the eight-year-old believe in himself?

Probably not much more than the monkey because again, at that age they’re not thinking that way. Instead they’d just say “Well, you said go knock on doors so I went and knocked on doors.”

So really, as I see it, whether or not you believe in yourself is all pretty academic until you have a go.

So just get out there and have a go.