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The secret formula for never giving up

We look at someone who is really good at what they do, and think that we ought to be like them. And we set out to do precisely this. When we fail (we will very likely fail), we give up on the idea. We tell ourselves that we blew our chance or that we aren't cut out for what it takes. We try to go down a different path. And then the same thing happens.

Until we let destiny happen to us. And drift along where the current takes us. Holding onto a branch here and a rock there to not sink.

When we fail spectacularly, that memory is etched in our minds. And for a long time after that, we are scared to attempt it again. For we fear a similar consequence. We fear another failure.

A year into my first job, I made a presentation to the CEO of an 80 billion dollar company, which was part of an effort to get him to sanction a few hundred million dollars for a new project.

I didn't get to do this out of the blue though. I found out later on that my then manager had been preparing me for this for several weeks.

Back then, I was easily intimidated by audiences. And especially so when the audience was the CEO of an 80 billion dollar company and the goal was to get funds approved. That's like playing the first football match in the final of the world cup. So, without me realising what he was up to, my manager got me to pitch business cases to varying audiences, each time a little bigger than the last. Each time, he gave me feedback on what I could improve on and what I did well.

Finally, when the day came, it felt like a natural next step.

Since then, I ask myself, what's the biggest next step that I can take that will feel like a natural progression? It can be in progressing to higher weights in the gym, or running longer distances in the park, or thinking up new features for products I can work on.

When the next step is a natural progression, failing in it won't be because it is intimidating. It will be because of few things we currently lack. And it will be very easy to identify what those few things are and to correct for them.

Take small steps. And you won't fall hard. And you will get up, brush the dust off and give it another go.

This is the secret to never giving up.

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