Why It’s OK to Be Naïve

Naive Chaos by Dr. Motte
Dr. Motte / Flickr

Today’s guest post is by writer Nick Thacker.

Many “normal people” ultimately fail to achieve what they set out to achieve. They’ll struggle for years subsisting on a 9-5 dead-end job, keeping that unfinished manuscript in a drawer—socking away 10% of their income until their blissful-yet-underwhelming retirement. It’s not very encouraging, is it?

Let me tell you what is encouraging, though: Most of the people who are “successful,” either in your eyes or their own, are just like you—“normal” people.

They’re not geniuses, ninjas, or savants. Some get lucky; some have the right connections.

When I wrote my book, I wasn’t focused on sales, or even on crafting the next Great American Novel. Instead, I said to myself, “I’ll bet I can write something that’s at least as good as the stuff I read.”

If I had done my research first—uncovering what it would take to “break in” to book publishing, I would have quit before I started. 

If you let the fear of the unknown (“could I make it in this world?”) stop you from even starting, you won’t start.

Instead, choose to be naïve.

Focus on a personal, fulfilling goal of shipping your dreams (in Seth Godin’s words).

“Successful” people often have one thing in common: They refuse to maintain the status quo, adhere to the world’s rules, or follow the norm. 

If you will allow yourself to “be naïve” and not let the huge world of expectations get to you, opportunities will arise.

Your initial efforts probably won’t be the pinnacle of achievement—but they’re complete. That should be your goal. You’ll learn more going through the processes than you ever will in a school (and I do have a music degree, so I can speak to that!).

If you truly want to achieve personal success—in whatever area—try these “rule-breaking” rules.

  • If it’s writing a book, well—write a book or three!
  • If it’s getting an awesome author mentor, start by asking your favorite author. Yeah, they’ll probably be too busy—but then ask them for their recommendation for a good mentor!
  • If it’s a better/improved/different lifestyle, stop reading about it—go find the people who are doing it, and ask them what they did to get there.

“But what if I fail?”

If you define an achievable and responsible goal, and fail while reaching for it, you’ve most likely gotten way ahead of the competition already:

Our fear of failure leads us toward procrastination, lack of motivation, and, well, failure. But by being naïve and reaching for the most out-of-reach goals and successes we’ll at least be motivated by the fact that we’re part of the few who can say we’ve tried it.

Let’s get specific: what things are you reaching for? In what ways have you succeeded (or failed miserably)? And in what ways can you be more naïve? Leave a note in the comments.

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