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You’re Not Good Enough… Yet

Last year, I spent $7k on a business coach. She was fantastic. She helped me through sessions of crafting my ideas to become a “thought leader. 

I drafted a book outline and started pitching literary agents. 

I started pitching big publications. Forbes. Business Insider. 

I was working on a TED talk. 

Here I come world. The next Simon Sinek. 

But halfway through the process, something felt wrong. I voiced it to my wife one day. 

“I don’t really want to be a thought leader. I just want to write a novel.” 

It was a truth that scared me.

I remembered drafting a chapter of a novel when I was 17. It made me so happy. I think it involved a dead body in a garage. 

At the time, I made the mistake of letting someone I care about read it. 

“This is too violent. I don’t think I want to read a book like this.” 

So I quit. 

And at the age of 37, my wife said something that freed me. “So, why don’t you write a novel?” 

So I did! I spent the next few months writing a thriller. 

And then I submitted it to literary agents. And I got a cold, hard taste of the reality of the fiction world. Because I got rejections. Dozens. Still counting.

A few agents said nice things. A few asked to read the full book before rejecting it. But as of writing this, they’ve all rejected it. 

I went online to try to make sense of what was happening. And I saw the tens of thousands of other wanna-be novelists out there. 

They were facing the same rejections I was facing. And they turned to the internet to voice their frustrations:

  • “Literary agent X is a jerk. How can they reject my novel after a quick read?”
  • “They’re looking for reasons to say no.”
  • “Agents rejected me because I’m white/black/male/female, etc. etc. etc.” 
  • “My novel contains vampires/goblins/romance/sex/ or other taboo subject, and that’s why it’s getting rejected.”
  • “They think my novel is too much like Twilight, but they didn’t read far enough to see that it’s not.”

Confession time. Some of these were stories I had told myself. 

Shell-shocked authors huddle in the dark corners of the internet.

They tell themselves the same old stories:

  • “J. K. Rowling was rejected by a ton of literary agents. Then the book was rejected 12 times on submission.”
  • “James Patterson was rejected 31 times before his breakout hit.”

It’s tempting to tell myself a story like that. 

After all, maybe I’m just an unrecognized genius who’s ahead of my time. Maybe I’m the next god-damned Salinger and nobody recognizes me! Screw them! They can’t see my brilliance!

Maybe my book will go on to sell kajillions and it will show those stuffy literary agents! 

But do you know what’s more likely? 

I’m just not good enough. Yet. 

In his memoir, On Writing, Stephen King tells the story of mailing out manuscript after manuscript to publishers. And when the rejection letters came, he’d stick them on a nail in the wall of his trailer. 

Eventually, there was a huge stack of rejections.

But he kept going and eventually sold the book Carrie. 

Was Stephen King just an unrecognized genius who publishers finally noticed? Possibly.

But don’t forget he kept writing too. Book after book. He submitted everywhere, long before he got any results. 

There was a process there. He was always getting better.

The victim complex is the easy way out.

As I explore the internet, I read the barrage of stories by people who are convinced the universe is working against them. 

They’re sure that there’s a reason they didn’t get the job or land the client or get accepted to X thing. 

And we’ve got no shortage of people to blame. 

  • The job interview that went south.
  • The boss who doesn’t see how hard I work (and pay me more)
  • The coach who passed me over. 
  • The editors who rejected my work. 
  • The mentor who chose someone else.

On and on and on. 

But here’s the beautiful truth that sets you free. 

You’re just not good enough… yet. 

Our ego is a funny thing. It tries so damn hard to protect our fragile little feelings. It wants to wrap us in a safe cocoon that tells us we’re brilliant little geniuses. The world just hasn’t recognized our brilliance yet. 

But that ego also kneecaps you. It sucks your potential and future joy. 

Because when you actually admit to yourself, I’m just not good enough… yet, it lets you focus on doing everything in your power to get better.  

There’s a solution there. And you have the power to change it.

So what if you’re not good enough yet? 

It doesn’t mean you never will be.

Recognizing you’re not good enough is your superpower.

One of the funniest things about being human is that you can win by being willing to do the things nobody else will do. 

So be the person who stares at the truth, right in its ugly, bloodshot eyes, without looking away. 

You’re not good enough… yet. 

And if you’re in the tiny percentage of human beings who can stare deep into that truth without looking away, you can become unstoppable. 

While everyone else is whining, you can get better. 

You’re not good enough yet. But you will be.

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