Success Is Blind

Uncertainty saturates reality. Just ask the 2007 New England Patriots football team, who went undefeated (18-0) throughout the regular season and playoffs only to lose to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. But also think about that from the perspective of the Giants, who barely made the playoffs, and won every game as underdogs in the playoffs. They couldn’t see or expect success until they had it.

The near-term and long-term results of our actions are unknowable. Even if you act consistently, a known process for forming habits, the exact strength and timing of the habit can’t be known.

Given this, it’s clear that the best way to take action is to embrace the uncertainty of it. Those who demand certainty will remain motionless, because every time you considering doing something, you’re immediately hit with multiple waves of uncertainty. Will something good happen? Will something bad happen? How likely is each? Are there other factors I’m currently blind to?

Fear Is Normal—Work Through It

Fear is interesting because of how differently it can be interpreted. If two people experience fear, one may see it as a reason to retreat, while another may see it as an opportunity. The “correct answer,” of course varies. When I peer down from a skyscraper and my legs feel funny, it’s correct to fear falling from a lethal height, but perhaps I shouldn’t fear being up high if I’m protected by a fence or glass wall.

Most fear we experience in life is similar to being on the top level of a skyscraper. It looks scary, but we are actually safe (I don’t know how humans can build such buildings, but that’s besides the point).

It’s very easy to develop a flight-only response to fear. You may instinctively retreat before considering why you feel fear and if you should face it instead of flee from it.

A significant percentage of fear comes from uncertainty. But uncertainty is life. It’s absolutely unavoidable, meaning that those who avoid uncertainty with the chance of success will still face uncertainty in their passiveness.

When you face a fear, and come out relatively unscathed, you gain power over it. Our best chance against uncertainty is to force our will upon it. We must be aggressive and proactive, attempting to carve a path despite the uncertainty of our success.

It’s Okay to Doubt—Prove It Wrong

Just as it’s okay to fear something before doing it, it’s also okay to have doubt. Think about the pioneers—there was persistent doubt until the first instance.

Some thought mankind would never run a 4 minute mile. After Roger Bannister did it, and removed the doubt associated with it, people started doing it in droves and still do it to this day.

It wasn’t the science of human running and endurance that broke us through that 4 minute barrier, it was someone actually doing it. So while it’s tempting to try to think your way through doubt, it’s often better to break through it with action. You might not be able to do it on the first try, or the tenth, but you’re better for trying.

Forward is the Way—Even If You Fail

“What if I do all of this and still fail?” That sentiment is a valid concern, but notice that it does not present an alternative.

Forward is the only way, even if it results in failure every time.

Put another way, why would you choose 100% failure over 99% failure? It’s better to have a chance to break through and win, even if the chance is remote.

There is something to be said about trying different strategies if your chosen strategy isn’t working, but some things just take multiple tries and a lot of time. Keep moving forward, because success is blind. You will encounter constant fear and doubt, win some and lose some. But you won’t see success until you’re already there.

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