Since you’re reading Dumb Little Man, it’s a safe bet that you’ve got an interest in personal development and self-improvement. You might want to do well in your career, run your own business, balance your work and your family life, find time to volunteer, or simply work at being a better person.
Have you ever felt a bit less than encouraged by some of the advice – and some of the gurus – that you come across? Have you felt small, inadequate and rather small in comparison with the people you look up to … you know, the ones who insist that you’re doomed to failure unless you become an early riser, eat a perfect diet and love every minute of your life?
Well, here’s the truth. You’re not small. You’re just human – and so are the gurus. Stop beating yourself up for not being perfect.
You’re Not Lazy
Do you ever feel that other people seem to be able to accomplish much more than you? Maybe you look at your cousin’s volunteering, or your neighbors’ garden, or your colleague’s completed reports, and you feel as though you should be able to do just as much as them.
Perhaps you’re rating yourself against old school friends, or even against complete strangers – authors of self-improvement books or personal development blogs.
The truth is … you’re not lazy. It’s just that the people around you tend to talk about the things they do accomplish, rather than the things they don’t. If someone has an amazingly productive weekend, they’ll let you know. It’s much rarer to hear about a direction-less weekend.
You’re Not Stupid
Another worry that you might have is that you’re simply not clever enough. Perhaps you think you’ll never be able to write as well as your favorite author, or perhaps you’re looking up to a tutor at college who seems to know everything, or an authority figure in your particular career.
Maybe you’re struggling along with your small business, trying to make it “work”, and feeling as though it never will – and every success story you read makes you feel worse. Maybe you’ve written a novel during NaNoWriMo that, objectively, you’re pretty sure doesn’t match up to the books you love reading.
Take heart: no-one gets it right first time. All the people who seem to have it sorted went through months or years of making mistakes and finding their way. Want proof? Stephen King – one of the world’s best-selling authors – spent his teenage years receiving rejection slips. In his book On Writing, he says:
“By the time I was fourteen … the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and kept on writing.”
You’re Not Slow
Sometimes, we look at other people and see instant success stories. The media often perpetuates this view, presenting “self made millionaires” and “overnight bestsellers”. The truth is, in almost every case, a lot of hard work went on behind the scenes.
In the blogging world, Leo Babauta is one of those sudden successes: he started blogging in January 2007, and quit his day job on the strength of that blog a year later. But what many blogging hopefuls don’t realize, when they look at Leo’s “overnight” success, is that he was a journalist for twenty years – honing writing skills that were obviously a help to him in blogging.
Don’t get discouraged because you feel that progress is slow: just focus on the fact that you are making progress.
You’re Human – And So Are the Gurus
Everyone, even personal development gurus, has off days. We all have moments when we lose our temper, we all have unproductive days, we all make silly mistakes, we all lose things … we’re all human!
If you got to know the people who you look up to, you’d realize that they have a lot of worries, fears and problems, just the same as you do. They might well not share those negative moments on their Twitter stream or Facebook profile, but they happen.
So next time you wish that you could reset your day (or week) and start again, don’t beat yourself up for not being perfect.
Are you blaming yourself for not living up to some image of perfection? Where do you need to cut yourself some slack?