It’s strange to claim that I’m successful. But I certainly feel like I am.
As we’ve heard many times before, the word “success” means something different to everybody. It’ll mean something different to me even three months from now.
But for now, I can pay my monthly expenses comfortably, I have an amazing tribe of people in my life, and I use my time exactly how I want. Success.
I’ve read tons of self-improvement books and watched just about every motivational video on YouTube. There are loads of tips and strategies successful people teach us.
Having a routine, practicing mindfulness, failing often.
But I’d like to reword that last one.
Whether we’re developing our careers, our passions, or our relationships, I’ve discovered this truth:
In order to be successful we must be willing to look like a fool.
A healthy business comes from the willingness to put ourselves out there. I’ve messaged people asking to connect and they’ve ghosted me with a wide birth—probably thinking I’m selling something or working for a pyramid scheme. (Four people this year have straight up asked me, “Is this an MLM?”)
No, this is Patrick.
Early in my coaching career, I was terrified to reach out to others. My fear was that everyone would see me as a salesman when I just wanted to talk or reconnect.
Would I invite them to a session? Yes, maybe. But if they declined I didn’t care at all. I just love talking to people.
These fears were beaten out of me as I continued to reach out to people every single week. Now when someone doesn’t respond or ghosts me, I couldn’t care less. Who’s next?
As far as my passion for chess…
I started playing consistently during lockdown last year. One of my best friends said we should play.
It was something we could do online together. And we’re both competitive so I had the drive to improve. My sole purpose for several months was just to beat him. He was better than I was and each time he beat me it stung.
But I kept coming back for more. I started studying and practicing each day. Here’s my rating over the past 12 months.
Notice the dips and plateaus. Those periods were not fun. They were discouraging.
But like the stock market, if we zoom out and look at the big picture, the long term, we can see that I’ve only gotten better as I’ve stuck with it.
Chess, like many things, goes like this:
Step 1: “I’m getting pretty good! I feel like I could beat anyone….”
Step 2: “I’m not sure I even know the rules. I suck. Maybe I should switch to checkers.”
And the cycle repeats. At every level.
The point is, when I’m not feeling on top of the world, I play with less confidence. But I play nonetheless. I may get destroyed and that always hurts…but if I just keep at it, the graph will continue to go up.
And finally, relationships.
A turning point in the health of my friendships came when I decided to be completely candid with my thoughts and feelings. In other words, I became good at having difficult conversations.
Speaking my mind. Setting boundaries. Being vulnerable.
I’m lucky to have a phenomenal group of friends, and it has been through my willingness to be open that these relationships have grown even stronger.
It can be quite scary, but if we are willing to risk foolishness, we’ll get good at just about anything.