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.

Posted in Creativity + Inspiration, Guest Post.

Nick Thacker is a blogger and writer, author of a thriller novel (with a second on the way). His site, LiveHacked.com, helps you build your writing platform through living and writing better.

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Turndog Millionaire

Great post, nick

I keep reading very relevant pieces at the moment, or is it just my eyes are a little more open to them at the minute? hmmm, i can’t decide. Either way, the advice always seems to be the same…

Be brave and show some balls and work hard, and hell, who knows, you may just become something great

One thing i know is great doesn’t happen to those that strive for ok too often

Matt (Turndog Millionaire)


Just the right message at the right moment.  Thank you.

Joanne Guidoccio

Excellent advice, Nick. 

Brandi M Lynch

Thanks for the boost! Sometimes we all need a little encouragement to try. It’s like the lottery; if you don’t play, you won’t win. So, I’m playing!

The big thing, I think, is to ignore the statistics. The statistics of landing an agent and then getting published really can kill the mood if you dwell on them too long.

J L Huspek

What a great post! I’m going to print it out and hang it by my computer.

Leanne Sype

“Your initial efforts probably won’t be the pinnacle of achievement—but they’re complete. That should be your goal.” This is the perfect message for me right now!  Thank you so much.  I am in the midst of learning what “prosper” really means… reaping results from my efforts (and I don’t necessarily mean financially).  Perhaps the “prosper” does not always come after the effort, but instead comes during the process of “doing”… of completing the process. 
Thanks for the perspective!

Amanda Rooker

Thanks for the inspiration, Nick – glad to have discovered your writing via the inestimable curator Jane Friedman. Particularly appreciated the idea to approach the one actually living your goals as a mentor (instead of looking at them starry-eyed from afar) – think I’ll go do that right now!

Patti Mallett

Thanks for the encouragement that my plan is correct! We need that every once in awhile. (You are Bookmarked, Nick!)

Deborah Lucas

You really hit the nail on the head for me. I’m always telling people that I’m just crazy enough or naive enough to believe I can do things other people say they wouldn’t even consider trying. It works for me. I wish more people would try it.

Thanks for the tip on finding a mentor. I’ll try that too. A writer friend tells me “Don’t try–do.” I guess we get our modern philosophers from the movies, buy hey, it works for me.


Yes! I’ve been taking imperfect action all my life. It’s led me into many adventures in career and life. I’ve lived in Haiti and the Ivory Coast, read and taught the books I have loved, been the president of a college, a foundation executive, and now I am finally writing a book. All along, I’ve been a “babe in the woods.” And that, along with a little help from my friends, and many blessings from God, has helped me live my dreams. May you continue doing the same and sharing the secrets. It helps a lot if you are willing… Read more »


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Thanks for sharing, you’ve raised some interesting points. I have not had a clue about the publishing industry until I joined up with blogger and started following a lot of write-orientated blogs, and since then all I have been doing is learning more and more about the big world that I’m trying to step in to. Sometimes it’s necessary, but I think that I’m still going because this research is coming after I’ve already written a manuscript and so I’m thinking to myself “If I’ve already given this so much effort, how is a little more going to hurt me?”… Read more »


The hardest part is definitely out of the way, and if I can’t be successful through traditional routes then I’ll be happy to launch the project myself. Making mistakes is the best method of learning, so my fear of them is slightly less from knowing that, and I won’t stop myself from doing something because of it.  I’ll have to check out these people, I think I’ve heard of James Scott Bell…  There are a small handful of people around me who are interested in reading my manuscript and so I share my stories with them, and they share theirs… Read more »

Caroline Rose

Years of rejection have taught me that if “no” is the worst thing that can happen, there really is nothing to fear.

Terri Hall

Thinking I was stepping up my game, to my email signature I recently added “aspiring writer, musician.”  A very insightful friend wrote back “Stop aspiring.  Be.”  Your post affirms his advice and what I know is true.  I might even add “mother of the year”…


Thank you for inspiring us aspiring writers.  In the past few years I have been opening myself up to new experiences.  I am currently writing an e-book and I plan to be an indie publisher soon.  I appreciate your encouragement and advice!


Looking at the post before me, I think I shouldn’t have called myself an “aspiring” writer!  Okay, I’ll be a writer.  No wishy-washy words!  ; – ))


Great Post, Nick. I thought I’d be on my bicycle heading west almost a year ago. Instead, it will be at the end of this week. One thing I have come to accept is that, when it comes to planning, staying on a schedule, especially for something like this that I have never done before, I SUCK at it!!! But, I haven’t let that stop me! : ) Instead, I have just kept persevering, and persevering, and persevering, and hoping that people who are following my story won’t hold the poor timing against me. (And so far, they’ve been pretty… Read more »


Hi, Nick…Actually, I guess I should have been a little more specific…It’s a “TEDx” talk, so, not totally in The Big Leagues yet, but maybe I’ll have another opportunity After this trip. : ) Thanks for the link to all the resources, won’t be able to consider the book right away, due to weight limits (!), but might find time to get back to it. Otherwise, still getting things done in my own, sometimes chaotic way, and as I suggested above, I’m learning to be okay with that, and also want to let people know that you don’t always have… Read more »


This must be “encourage writers” day. Did I miss the memo? I sure haven’t missed the message. Nick, you’re the 3rd blog I’ve read this morning and each has basically repeated a message of hope, encouragement, and faith. I appreciate your specifics. “If  it’s writing a book–well, write a book or three!” In my case, I’ve written and published one. You are soooooo right about the fact that, even if the book fails to make anyone’s best seller list but mine, I’ve learned some lessons I wouldn’t have learned if I’d played it safe and not tried at all. It’s… Read more »


Ditto. I’ve definitely learned from All of the decisions I’ve made thus far planning and preparing for my trip – the good ones and the not so good ones. (Like, don’t use your expensive iPad as a “backrest” for promotional materials, when you have nothing to set it on but a wobbly plastic container, on the Concrete driveway of your friend’s garage sale! Probably gonna be living with the consequences of that Bad Decision for the rest of my trip! :p) Otherwise, YES, for me, Experience is the best teacher. Sometimes, you just have to Go for It.


 That lesson, I believe, will stick, but ouch!

florence fois

Thanks, Nick. It’s nice to hear something simple, sweet and honest. BTW what there is out there are so many “advice” sites a person could go mad. My way of plodding along, naive or not, is to turn down the volume on the chatter and write 🙂

Anne R. Allen

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. ” So very true!

J. R. Nova

Very good stuff, Nick. Thank you!


[…] Why It’s OK to Be Naïve. […]

Lily Kreitinger

Great post!  Fear will paralyze us and we’ll let the old lizard brain run wild if we look at all the others who have come before us in any endeavor we want to accomplish.  “What if I’m not good enough?” is always the background noise.  I love the concept of being naive in the sense of owning our dream and running with it.  Thanks!!

This is very inspiring. Trying to do what you dream of is not always easy, and as you indicate it does not lead instantly to success, but it’s really the only thing that keeps your soul alive.


I remember how much easier it was for me to write back in high school before I was aware of how hard it is “to achieve” anything in the world of writing.


Congratulations on being the best writer’s blog I’ve read today.  I’ve chosen to go down this route when I started my first manuscript, and I’ve completed two.  In a little over two years.  I’m almost finished editing my first which has turned into an epic.     I told my husband I wouldn’t have started if I understood the scope of my undertaking AND I would’ve stopped if I read  about my chances of getting published.   I still read the blogs, but I’ve “trained” my mind to say, “This article doesn’t include me.”    This allows me to keep… Read more »

Joe Lalonde

I’m reaching for a new platform for the message I’m giving. It took me years before I had the courage to start. And now it’s growing. My blog traffic has increased every month since I started(maybe not to the heights I would like to see, but they are), my subscription list is growing, my skills are growing.


Cherry Odelberg

Yes!  This is the most helpful information I have read in a long time.  Nourishing to the languishing brave soul.


Sometimes within the writers’ community, everyone around you has written a book.  Yet, step outside into the world around you, and quickly I discovered that most around me hadn’t. One day as I was substituting for a high school class, I mentioned that I had written a YA novel to the students. One student looked up and said, “You’ve done something with your life.” It didn’t matter to him that it wasn’t published, just the fact it was done made an impression.  Some days, it’s that comment that helps me keep writing.

Grace Peterson

Because I liked the post so much I decided to link to it on my blog. Thank you both for the inspiration!  (www.gracepete.com)

Glenda Ryans

I started writing a story one evening…just a fluke…something came into my mind and I wanted to follow it….
The response to my story was so overwhelming to me, I went and deleted the whole thing.
Afraid, scared of the power of my own words, I ran.
I wish very much now that I still had it…
my bad…

Sheila Cull

JF, thanks for sharing this post by Thacker, love it!  I got goose pimples reading it, really love it!  

And I couldn’t possibly be anymore naive.  


Sheila Cull


Eye-opening. Just what I needed!

Ernie Zelinski

I agree totally. These are a few of my mottos that have helped me write, self-publish, and promote several books which have now sold over 700,000 copies worldwide. 1. Do it badly – but at least do it. (Perfection is for idiots, in other words). 2. You have to be stupid enough to try something to find out that it really works. 3. A little bit of craziness is good for business. I believe it was Mark Twain who said: “The radical invents the point of view. When he has worn it out, the conservative adopts it.” Ernie J. ZelinskiBest-Selling Author, Innovator,… Read more »


book is big, my writing is little – an Epic in tweets (headed for ten thousand), tiny “poems” 2, 3, 4 or 5 at a time in 140 characters. @BobzGone and @tombxtOnNET 


[…] Nick Thacker describes how he dove in head first without too much thinking. If he had, well, he would have more than likely not done it.  But should you let fear and preparation stop you from achieving your dreams? […]

Louise Behiel

I’m at Romantic Times Convention this week and that’s the message I’ve heard repeatedly.  just do it.


I’ve always believed that if you want something extreme to happen, then you have to put it out there — say it to as many people as you can and then it eventually becomes reality. I’ve wanted to stop working full time and return to writing what I want to write, and as of this month that has become a reality. I’m thankful for this chance to be the writer (nonfiction and fiction) that I’ve longed to be.


This came along at a great time for me! Thank you for your post. (It fits in with my personal situation, as well as with my blog’s theme). Now, to ask that mentor….


Thanks for your practical & positive thoughts. They are much appreciated in this hurry up & wait world we live in.


Hey Nick. Nice post.

Do you have any stories of famous people who have achieved something great through naivety? I’m doing a talk on this next week and need a couple more real world examples that people will relate to.

Thanks! J

[…] is from Nick Thacker’s post labeled Why It’s OK to Be Naïve on Jane Friedman’s […]

Sara Correa

I love your message in this! I’m still young, a freshman in college, but all through my life I’ve been called “too ambitious” and naïve when I share my goals, long or short term, with people. And by not listening to them I’ve done things I didn’t think I could do. Maybe nothing huge yet but my accomplishments still show me that bigger things are possible! For example, in high school I joined the theatre program completely inexperienced, worked hard to prepare my first audition and made the cast list! After that, I still felt like a newbie and I… Read more »