Ten months ago I packed my car with everything I owned and began an eleven hour drive west.
It was four days after my college graduation, and I had just turned down the “perfect” job offer at an up-and-coming LED lighting company. I was leaving the town, friends, house, and life that I had built for myself over the last five years. My new plan: drive to Ann Arbor and find something that gave me the freedom to screw up.
From the moment I stepped foot into a corporate office in the summer of 2011, I knew I wasn't destined for the conventional nine to five. I couldn't stand the idea of helping someone else build their dream, while mine sat in the corner collecting dust. It was time for me to experience everything this world had to offer me.
Three days later, I found myself sharing a musty, two-hundred square foot room with no A/C on the third floor of a crowded eleven-person house. Finally, I was living the dream... I was a broke, jobless college grad in a brand new town and I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do next. I was scared, anxious, excited, sad, and happy all at the same time and it was glorious. It was time to see if I could actually put to practice all of the personal development and life skills I had read about over the last two years.
After settling in, I found a local start-up offering lecturing opportunities to people with unique talents and skills. I told the founder that I was a semi-professional poker player and could teach the game at a high level at one of her events. Was I lying? Not entirely. I've made money playing poker... that qualifies as semi-professional right?
Fast-forward two weeks and I’m standing in front of an audience of people in the basement of a bar. I’m about to deliver my poker speech with almost nothing prepared, and as usual I’m scared shitless. Little did I know that I was the most experienced poker player in that room by far. After my jitters wore off, I realized that people were looking at me like I was the expert that I claimed to be. Some even took out note-pads and began jotting down my advice. My rate for this lecture was $80/hour, and I walked out feeling victorious. I remember getting into my car that night thinking "holy shit, I just made money talking about something I love."
Enter the world of possibilities. Forcing myself into tough situations like the one above led me to do some crazy things in the coming months. I started working at a digital design agency, placing photos for a multi-million dollar redesign of this site. The funny thing was, I didn’t know a thing about photography. From there I completed my first ever triathlon, ran a sub 4:50 mile, attended 30+ Bikram yoga classes, found a new passion for CrossFit, failed at starting a juicing business, became a local host for the global Live Your Legend movement, planned a quest to bike across America, started a second business to help college grads land their dream job... and then started this blog.
I grew so confident in my ability to "fake it 'till I make it" that I started applying to mid-level finance jobs that required MBAs and 5+ years of experience. Since then, I’ve accepted one such job offer at a Fortune 10 company, making more money than I ever thought possible. I’m not telling you all of this to brag. I’m telling you because I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing in life. Most days I feel like a complete fraud. When I wake up, all I want to do is curl into a ball and hide under my blanket because I’m afraid of being “found out”. I’m afraid that I’ll fail, that I’ll be ridiculed, and that all my friends will abandon me.
But none of those fears are as great as the fear I have for living a life a complacency–a life where all my ideas, passions, talents and values are thrown into the grave with me when I die. So for now, I’m going to go on pretending like I have it figured out. And I encourage you all to start doing the same. Because if you do, one day you’ll wake up and be the person you always dreamed of being. Here are some tips to help you set sail:
1. Change it Up
My biggest advice to anyone who wants to master the art of "faking it" is to try something different. Go find something that you can screw up. It can be as simple as taking a different route to work in the morning, or getting up twenty minutes early to step outside and take a few breaths of fresh air. It can be as epic as signing up to give a TEDx talk, or rage-quitting your job after reading this to pursue your dream of traveling the world.
The more you push your comfort zone, the greater the reward, but even a small step is infinitely better than no step at all. The more you try new things, the more you'll be able to rely on your confidence alone to get you through any situation. For me, it started with signing up to give a talk on poker.
2. Change Today
A lot of us think that tomorrow is the day we will change. We are always waiting for the stars to be aligned and for all the lights of life to be green before taking the leap of faith.If you don’t do it today, how will you ever be able to live your dream? Tomorrow becomes never. You have limited time on this earth and once you lose a day, you’ll never get it back. A friend of mine started a business behind this concept and developed a product that you can use to help called the Mori Calendar. Do something today, it doesn't matter how small. A year from now you’ll look back and be glad you started today.
3. Live Like a Millionaire
Living like a millionaire and being a millionaire are fundamentally different things. “People don’t want to be millionaires – they want to experience what they believe only millions can buy. $1,000,000 in the bank isn’t the fantasy. The fantasy is the lifestyle of complete freedom it supposedly allows.” -Tim Ferriss
What are the skills you would learn and behaviors that you would embody if you became a millionaire overnight? Would you learn to salsa dance, become extremely fit, and have an exceptionally outgoing and polarizing personality that takes over the room? Tip: you can start to develop all of those skills and character traits with close to zero dollars.
Practicing living like a millionaire will help you realize that you are just as entitled to enjoying everything life has to offer as anybody else is. Whenever I find myself in an uncomfortable situation or feel that I am not good enough, I practice this act.
4. Surround Yourself With the Right People
We’ve all heard this so many times, but I can’t emphasize enough how important this one is.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” -Jim Rohn.
Scott Dinsmore of Live Your Legend has another quote that I live by:
“The fastest way to do the things you don’t think can be done is to hang around people already doing them”.
It doesn't matter if you have the best tools and resources available, if everyone around you tells you that you’re stupid for trying, you will fail. If you surround yourself by people who are doing the “impossible,” a world of opportunities will open its door to let you in. You'll begin to realize that they too were once where you are now and that all it takes is a simple shift in mindset to do many "impossible" things in life.If all else fails, read the following quotes over and over again. They have given me the confidence to do things that I never thought were possible.
“I went out into the world and I carried myself and I held my head high and I stood there and I looked people in their eyes and I talked to people as if I was deserving of everything that this planet has to offer. He who says he can and he who says he can't are both usually right.” -Will Smith
“It is not the things we do in life that we regret, it is the things we do not.” -Randy Pausch
“You are already naked, there is no reason not to follow your heart.” -Steve Jobs
When was the last time you "faked" your way to success? What's something that you've always wanted to do? What would help you take a leap of faith and go for it? I'd love to hear! Comment below.