Search for motivational content on just about any social media platform right now and you’ll pretty quickly find yourself soaked in the inspiring words of many, many energetic and inspired individuals – those who swear by the YOLO mantra, who have lived it themselves and want you too to go after what ever it is that you dream of becoming. The more of these videos we watch, the more of those podcasts we listen to, the more of these memes we see – the greater that drive gets, and the stronger that self-belief becomes within us.
It’s all well and good if you’ve got the get-up-and-go to actually follow through with something. But what happens when self-belief gets in the way of all those other things that need taking care of – the bills, the school run, the debt, the travel plans, the relationships, the freedom. When do we go from a driven and passionate individual, to a deluded one? When does having your head in the clouds start meaning you trip over all of the obstacles down here on planet normal? I’ll tell you what happens. You work-out a smarter way to chase that dream.
What Happens when we aren’t Taught to Believe we’re Capable of Great Things?
Let’s consider the opposite of an inspirational or motivational talk. Let’s think of those families who raise their children to know their place, to know where they come from and where they belong, and to live strictly within the walls of expectation and duty. Are they self-confident? Are they passionate? Are they happy? Maybe, in some cases. Probably not, in many others. As humans, we live with the great benefit of free will and self awareness. We’re not born to simply manage the things that are already in place. We thrive on adventure – curiosity drives us – we want to learn more, know more, experience more. We dream because what else is there for such a complex mind in such a complex world to do?
Things have always changed – society, life itself – we evolve as a species and the planet develops new technologies and new understandings faster and faster every year. That’s how we’re meant to operate – we’re problem solvers, we celebrate growth and achievement. We strive for success. It’s important for us to dream and to be confident and to have that self-belief; so long as we’re not dreaming of something that’s completely out of reach. Those things are few and far between though. Most of the things we dream of, we do so because we’ve seen that it’s possible. We’ve seen someone just like us succeed at it, and that’s inspired us.
The Importance Of Self-Awareness
Self-awareness is crucial, and not something we tend to consider when looking at the possibilities available to us in life. Amazing things do happen every day though, even for those who were told they’d never make – they have made it, and they still do. In some cases, we just don’t know what it is that we’re good at yet, or what we love – what we’re passionate about. Maybe we chased the wrong thing for a while. That’s OK too – it’s all part of the process. The only way to work out what you love and what you’re good at is to try things. To live, to explore, to figure it all out for ourselves.
Advice is great sometimes and of course we learn from our parents about the basics of existence and human behavior, but there comes a point when you have to pave your own way. And in order to do that – you have to believe that you can. Whatever it is, whether music or science or languages or travel or architecture or space exploration or baking or animal activism (etc. etc. etc.) – if your mind tells you it’s not possible, then it isn’t. But if you work on getting your mind to tell you it absolutely is, and even to start working out the potential, logical ways of doing it – every day it becomes more and more possible. As self-belief and self-awareness grow, so do knowledge and understanding – and slowly but surely, those dreams start turning into realities.
Risk & Reward
She who doesn’t put money on the table, cannot possibly lose. Nor can she win. The more risks we take, within reason – let’s not get deadly, start small – the more comfortable we get with that as a way of life. You cannot experience the world from your office chair. You can see it on a screen, sure, but you can’t feel it – you can’t know it – and you can’t really change your role within it. The danger of self-belief is that you could lose everything you had before – if you go for that dream job, you could lose the slightly dull but pays fairly well job that you’ve stumbled your way through for the past few years. But, in the same instance, you could get the dream job. And that, as an outcome, is far more incredible and uplifting and inspiring than either of the alternatives.
Let’s consider music – you could perform live for the first time ever this very evening. Maybe you make a fool of yourself – it’s unlikely, but it’s possible. Maybe they don’t ask you to play there again. Even this is part of the process sometimes – go and get better, learn more, improve, and know that there are thousands of other opportunities and places to try again and to shine. Don’t sit simply wondering. Try it out.
Every loss, every mini failure, is a crucial stepping stone in knowing how to progress to the next safety point. It’s like rock climbing – the comfort of locking in is only found by pushing up through those open spaces – those moments where, if you fall; you know about it. This is true of everything in life. We aren’t meant to sit and repeat the same tasks day in day out. We don’t learn anything that way, we don’t evolve, we don’t grow, we don’t feel happy from it. We have more choices than any other species on this entire planet. We can do anything we want to do, particularly at this very time in history.
It’s a superb time to be alive and it’s absolutely crucial that we encourage each other and share the power of self-belief and the value of reward in the face of risk. There’s so much happening and there’s so much more left to happen. Let’s make it happen – get started, get out there. Believe in your own potential to do things outside of your comfort zone. It’s what we’re meant to do. It’s the reason we’ve made it so far. It’s the reason life holds so much beauty and wonder and possibility. The only real problem with believing in yourself is that your old, complacent self might get left behind. Don’t worry about that. You can always go back and visit.