If you want to be successful, why are you wasting time thinking about how much you don't want to fail? It was this simple question and way of thinking that changed how I approach my life and my business. With everything going on in the world right now, it's so easy to fall into the fear trap. It's all around us. Every phone call is driven by how hard things are. The media is saying the world is melting down right now. It's difficult to avoid.
Fear is one hell of a drug. It gets you up. It gets you down. It drives you crazy. It sells newspapers. Fear can have catastrophic effects on the brain, which can impair your ability to make smart decisions. It forces you to stay in your comfort-zone and not try anything new. Not take any risks. It forces you to stay in that job or relationship you hate despite how miserable it's making you, because you’re too scared to make a change.
Fear of failure can even have significant physical effects on the body, such as a weakened immune system and premature ageing. I believe fear is primarily driven from the fear of worrying about what other people think of you. I believe that's one of the main reasons why people resist change or trying anything new. If fear of failure is the only thing that is consuming your mind and thoughts right now, you have already failed.
Going through these crazy times forced me to do some deep reflecting on the difficulties I encountered in my business back in 2016/2017 when I nearly lost it all. Things got so bad (I’m talking really bad). I became fixated on the fear of failure rather than focusing on the solutions to get myself out of the mess I was in. I could see the world around me, slowly falling apart, even though it wasn’t. I was so fixated on failure, that every decision, every conversation, every plan I made pivoted around the outcome of failure. The stories I was telling myself presupposed that I was going to fail. The result of this thinking nearly ended in bankruptcy. I ended up losing my house, a million dollars, and nearly lost one of the most successful men's streetwear brands on the internet that I had built from scratch.
Fear of failure also turned me into a very selfish person. I was constantly thinking about myself, and as a result I was very difficult to be around.
How did I turn it around? I turned it around by switching my focus from the fear of failure to the thoughts of success.
This epiphany taught me a valuable lesson; what you decide to do next, when you're in a tough situation, almost always begins with what you can't see.
Currently, I'm obsessed with thoughts of success, because I know your thoughts drive your actions and the way you view the world. Eventually, your actions dictate your reality. This epiphany was the catalyst for me turning things around back then and is why I am doing it right now, and I urge you to do the same. I’ve been thinking about success with the same enthusiasm and intensity as I was thinking about failure a few years ago. What ends up happening is your whole demeanour and physiology changes. The way you carry yourself. The words you use. Your happiness levels change. Your purpose changes. The way you approach your decisions. The way you view the world and your business. The way you lead and influence others. The way you design products and the way you write articles like this. You begin seeing opportunities rather than problems even in the difficult times because you're commanding your brain to look for them.
Now I know this concept isn't unique and it's not that hard to apply either. Yet, people still don't do it. It's the same as staying in shape. It's not that hard. Just exercise every day. Don't eat too much sugar. Eat low carbs and don't eat processed or takeaways.
The fact that this concept is so simple is what makes it so powerful. If you apply it, and remind yourself of it consistently, it can be life-changing and serve you remarkably well during these unprecedented times. This thinking has changed the way I view life and do business. Turning a company around from the verge of bankruptcy is no easy feat. It requires a level of intensity and commitment that takes every ounce of energy out of you. But switching my focus from fear of failure to thoughts of success is what pulled me through.
Thoughts of success, prosperity and opportunity rather than fear, retraction and failure are changing the way our company is operating during these times. From the moment the COVID-19 lockdown was announced these were the conversations we had despite having a huge reduction in our revenue due to store closures. The decisions we are making, the outlook we are adopting, and the brand we will become post-COVID-19 will be completely different because of the attitude our team is applying. I urge you to do the same.
I know this way of thinking isn’t always easy to put into practice, but if you do apply it, harsh climates, recessions and business pessimism can be your biggest opportunity - if you allow it.
What if you intensified your thinking toward success rather than focusing on the thought of failing no matter how bad your situation is?
What decisions would you begin making differently? What would your energy levels be like? How much more driven would you be? What changes would you make? How much more of an enjoyable person would you be, to be around?
What I’ve learnt over the years is that your energy, your thoughts and your focus tend to become your reality regardless of whether they're good or bad. If the thoughts you constantly think about haven't yet become your reality, with enough time, they eventually will.
If you're putting all your energy towards avoiding failure or thinking about failure, you're subconsciously manifesting failure. Your life is slowly getting worse but it’s happening at a pace where you don’t notice it happening, which is why it’s so dangerous. If that's true, putting all your energy toward success may create an entirely different scenario. Trust me on this.
However, there's a catch. I know there's a bunch of pragmatists reading this (I’m also one), and are probably thinking that what I'm saying is bullshit. I agree with you; it is bullshit if you don't pair it with a few other key attributes.
Wishing your way to success isn't going to work. It's not transactional and the formula doesn’t work like that. You can't think that by just having the right attitude but doing nothing, you're going to succeed. You need to combine correct thinking, with a strong work ethic and development of new skills. If you lack specific skills, you must do your best to acquire them, and figure out precisely what it is you need to learn. Most people seem to think their education stops after finishing university or school. After that, the job or career should be there waiting for them. In 2020 and beyond that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, if that’s your view, unfortunately you will be outperformed and out employed by people who are seeking new information and are pursuing self education. Once again, your desire and energy to want to acquire these new skills come from the quality of thoughts and being focussed on success rather than failure.
There's a reward for coming out of a challenge with a positive attitude. There's a reward for focusing on success. The prize is you become more productive, more resilient, more resourceful, more intelligent and a better human being. Your business will also grow as a result of it. These are attributes you carry with you your whole life.
It's without a doubt that we are heading into a recessionary climate. Some saw it coming; some didn't. All that was needed was a pandemic, a natural disaster or some Godly event to set it all off. I read somewhere that the losers react and the winners anticipate, and I now know what they mean. That's probably why the successful get tremendously wealthy in these tough economic climates. However, if you didn't anticipate for something like this to happen and you're reacting, don't sweat it. It's not too late. As long as you don't focus on failure for too long, make some drastic changes, and learn new skills, you should do better than most. If you're reading articles like this and applying the principles, you are already steps ahead.
Sometimes setbacks can be big setups for something bigger and better if you view them in that way. They can craft your personality and correct those character flaws you knew you had but didn’t bother to fix, because you didn’t need to at the time. Tough economic climates expose how good you really are and can be the greatest opportunities to get ahead. They also filter out the weak and the ones that haven’t bothered to innovate. So use this time to your advantage. 50% of the fortune 500 companies were started during a full-blown recession. These include AirBnb, Disney, Apple, Uber and even I Love Ugly in 2008. All these companies were once just an idea to solve a problem that many people had and the founders went out there and did it.
In nature there's a thing called a “cleansing storm”. Cleansing storms are big infrequent events that clear out the overgrowth of weeds and weak trees that accumulated over a period of time. These storms are imperative for forests and nature to stay healthy and strong. Without them, forests would be inundated with weak trees and have a big buildup of overgrowth that stifles the growth of the other trees. The same is true for businesses and economies. Bad times are life cleansing storms. They force cutbacks and corrections so only the strongest employees and strongest and most resilient companies survive. As a result the standards of how things should be done rise dramatically and the market comes back stronger and better than ever before. The thought of the bad times is terrible while it’s happening, but in the long term they are healthy and necessary.
Life's a new game now. Education is a new game. Business is a new game. You can't be reliant on anybody else no more. You can't be reliant on the government to solve your problems, your boss to solve your problems or your parents to solve your problems. You need to be the solver of your problems.
You can't rely on your old thoughts or skills you had, mistakenly thinking these same traits are going to get you through the tough times. You can’t just think but not do. Now's the time to give yourself a shake-up and throw out the old and replace it with the new. Use the pain of fear you may be experiencing as leverage to make the necessary changes.
When people are faced with the thorny problems of life and business or are overwhelmed with how much they have to do, they often think the way to get out of it is to work harder or they wish it was easier. But if it seems hard, frustrating and time consuming, understand this is inevitable and this is where the growth comes from. Learn to take some time to step out of the situation and figure out a better way to handle it. Be like an outsider looking in. There's always a better way.
Einstein famously quoted "the definition of insanity is doing what you have always done, and expecting a different result".
You're rewarded in life for the problems you solve and the opportunities you create for other people. In times like this, it’s essential to venture out and diversify. To experiment and begin that idea that you have been brooding on for a long time now. What have you got to lose? Better yet, if you don’t start now, when will you ever? Be honest to yourself.
I believe now is the best time to start a business or start something new. There's less competition, as everyone else is too scared. Marketing is significantly cheaper because most companies are pulling back. Talent is easier to find and is less expensive than before, however, most people would rather just carry on doing nothing because it feels better and it’s easier.
I started I Love Ugly in my bedroom in 2008 right in the middle of a global recession, with no money, and despite becoming an unexpected father to a 3 month premature daughter at 22 years old with only 4 weeks to prepare. I was depressed, addicted to marajuana and felt aimless in my life. I didn’t know what I was doing but I searched for change. I eventually found what I was passionate about and developed an insatiable hunger to succeed and a drive to learn the skills. With what was going on in my external world, I had no choice but to succeed. I used the fear around the situation as leverage to succeed. I now had a daughter to feed. As a result, I found opportunities and gaps in the markets that no one else saw. The rest is history.
Sure, you're going to experience some difficulties and defeats. I experienced many and wanted to quit countless times. To overcome this challenge, you must learn from racecar drivers, who are taught to concentrate on the road ahead and not on the potential hazards and track walls even when they spin out of control. You gotta keep your focus on the solutions ahead of you, not the problems around you. You got to focus on the opportunities and not the supposed lack thereof.
If nothing bad is happening to you now, wait a bit and it will. It's called reality. It is what it is. If something bad happens, change the way you respond to: “I’ve been expecting you”. The important thing is to prepare for these things to happen and not spending all your time whining and moaning about the situation. Wishing it was easier doesn’t make it so.
Winston Churchill famously summarised the above when he said “success consists of going from failure to failure without the loss of enthusiasm.”
When you think about it. It makes no sense to get frustrated when there's not much you can change about the situation and when life has so many more amazing things to offer. There's absolutely nothing you can’t accomplish if you take the time to think creatively and have the character to face the challenge.
It's ok to fear failure, but it's not ok to live in failure. Living in failure is living in defeat. Do yourself a favour and fixate your mind, energy and focus on success. Rather than being awake at night from stress and worry, stay awake at night with excitement about what the future holds. Find out for yourself what it really feels like rather than getting to the end of your life and wondering what it would have been like. Remember to be patient. It's true your thoughts can change in an instant, however your external world can take some time to catch up with what’s going on in your mind.
Successful people aren't lucky or born with this stuff. I know it seems like that, but the older I get, the more I realise how untrue that is. The more I apply these principles, the more I realise how true it is. Successful people are obsessed with success, and do whatever it takes to achieve it.
Correct your habits now before they become your reality. Because they will. It's ok to get off track from time to time, but don't do it more than a few times. Concentrate. Focus. Centre your energy—zero in on your dreams, goals and ambitions.
If you're a small company or just starting, never let your small company keep you small-minded. Being a small company right now is such an advantage. Even the big guys get caught out with small thinking and the old way of thinking because they are too big to move or too scared to change. I'm using this time as an opportunity to prosper, get ahead and make up for the mistakes I made in 2016/17. There's always a silver lining.
Now's my time to get I Love Ugly to the top of the game again. To achieve my goal of becoming the best men's streetwear brand in the world. This goal scares me which in return, excites and motivates me.
Now's your time to do the same. To make that electrical company stand the part. To sell that course you have been longing to create. To build that bloody website. Now's the time for the next generation of entrepreneurs, brands and role models to emerge. For $800 or less you can get a company off the ground.
Put it this way: if you don’t come out of this quarantine with either new skills, a new side hustle started, more knowledge, more money and a clear sense of where you should be, it’s not a lack of time that’s the problem, it’s your lack of discipline!
Last week, my wife lost all her freelance work due to the company's she worked with closing their doors. Instead of whining about the situation we asked ourselves, what's the opportunity right now? What does the future look like? Immediately we came up with some amazing answers, which lead to some powerful realisations around what was missing in the market. Five days later, she launched a brand new course on how to take the stress out of recipe planning and sold nearly 150 courses in 48 hours. Anything is possible.
It's daunting, it's going to be hard, and there are many skills you need to acquire along the way, but why not? You get rewarded proportionately to the value you create in the market and the problems you solve in people's lives. Always be excited about the possibilities. But never feel you are entitled to them even though you may think you are.
The excitement of visualising ideas and dreams is what pulls me through the thorny realities of life and business to make my visions become my reality.
Many people ask me how to start or where to start. My advice is just to start. The hardest part of the whole process is the beginning. Sit your ass down, undistracted from the noise on your phone, the push notifications, the texts, the memes, the brain candy videos and figure it out!
I applaud those that have the discipline to sit themselves down and apply the mind to whatever it is they are trying to figure out. I'm doing the same thing writing this article. I wanted to clarify some thinking and to give my audience some value. I wanted to watch the bonus episode of Tiger King, but I wanted to teach myself the discipline of writing this article instead, despite being 10:30pm on a Friday night, being exhausted from 3 kids nagging me all day and the stresses of running a company.
After a while, ten minutes, 1/2 hour, 1 hour it starts to become enjoyable. You begin to figure it out and get into a flow state. You also feel amazing afterwards because you have begun the journey. All the agitations will taper off, and you will start getting into the zone. You will begin to enjoy it. That's a success, and if you want success badly enough, you will force yourself to do it. Study and investigate as if you know nothing. Work as if you can solve anything. Don’t rely on anyone anymore, don’t waste this opportunity.
People don't want to be wrong or say the wrong thing, so they do and say nothing at all. That's weak, and that mindset stems from the thoughts of failure. Eradicate that way of thinking. The best way, (if you're wondering how) is by doing. Action is the antidote to fear.
If you want to be successful, you have to stop thinking about failure. Simple isn’t it?