Do you have a dream? Something that you want to accomplish? Maybe you’ve always wanted to run a marathon or participate in a fitness competition. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to write a book or start your own business.
Are you actively moving towards your goals? If not, then what’s getting in your way? Maybe you’ve been telling yourself that it’s just not the right time right now — things are hectic, and COVID-19 isn’t making anything easier. Or maybe you’ve focused your attention on something else, and you just don’t have the energy to pursue your dreams right now.
Maybe you really are busy, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say this: You’re afraid of failure. You’re afraid of chasing your dream and having it blow up in your face. You’re afraid of what people might think about you if you try.
First of all — I’ve been there. Fear of failure is a very real pressure, and it keeps so many people from pursuing their passion. And I’m not going to lie, when you do pursue your dream, you’re going to be met with failure. You’re going to make mistakes. But you can grow in that discomfort and become a better person in the process.
If you’re struggling with this fear, then this episode is for you. I have one of the most inspirational women on the podcast today — Luvvie Ajayi Jones — and she’s going to share her wisdom about overcoming fear while chasing your dreams.
Luvvie Ajayi Jones is a New York Times bestselling author, sought-after speaker, and podcast host who thrives at the intersection of comedy, technology, and justice. Her debut book, I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual, was an instant bestseller when it was released in 2016. In this hilarious book of essays, Luvvie Ajayi inspires us to have good behavior, one sharp and funny side-eye at a time. It’s a book that will make you laugh and also make you think.
Luvvie is an internationally-recognized speaker with a highly popular TED Talk, Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable, which has over 5 million views and has been transcribed into 22 languages! Her podcast, Rants & Randomness, is also a massive hit with over 2 million downloads! In the podcast, she discusses life, lessons, and the pursuit of always doing better.
Luvvie has received numerous accolades, including being chosen by Oprah Winfrey as part of her inaugural SuperSoul100 list as someone who “elevates humanity.” At the base of it all, Luvvie is committed to creating content and doing work that informs, inspires, and convicts others to make positive change. What started as a hobby has become a global business and has allowed her to help people in more ways than she could have ever imagined.
The first line of Luvvie’s bio says she thrives “at the intersection of comedy, justice, and professional troublemaking.” What an awesome description of Luvvie and her work! I asked Luvvie what it means to be a professional troublemaker, and she had a great response:
“I’m the person who, at no point, could you put in one box. And people were like, ‘What do you do?’ And I’m like, ‘A lot of things!’ … I really care about the world, and I’m usually shaking the table. I’m making you laugh, I’m making you think critically, and hopefully making you leave the world better than you found it.” – Luvvie Ajayi Jones
Luvvie is a genius. Her wisdom and humor are so inspiring to me, and I’m really happy she could join me today. Let’s go!
As a professional troublemaker, Luvvie speaks her mind. Through her writing, podcasting, and speaking engagements all over the country, she shares her thoughts on everything from TV shows to social justice issues.
But in our current political climate, it can be difficult to speak up. We have this fear of “cancel culture,” and it can discourage you from sharing your truth with the world. It makes sense — social media can be an excellent platform for sharing our opinions, but it can also be a toxic and scary place. We’ve all seen that arguments on Facebook and Twitter can get pretty heated, and facing that kind of backlash can be daunting.
Thankfully, Luvvie’s here to bring us some wisdom on the subject:
“There’s a thousand reasons not to speak. It’s sometimes just easier to shut up and face the wall and be in the corner. But I really challenge people to not fall into that temptation because I feel like part of the reason why we find ourselves in these moments that feel deeply uncomfortable in the world is that we’ve been too quiet for too long. … Oftentimes we’re like, ‘Yo, the world is a dumpster fire,’ but I’m always like, ‘Okay, the world is a dumpster fire, but what am I doing in my own space to try to clean up the fire?’” – Luvvie Ajayi Jones
That is so true. A lot of us are afraid to speak up. But when we don’t speak up, we create a more problematic world. When we don’t share our thoughts and carefully consider other people’s opinions, we don’t get to grow as a society.
And here’s some good news: social media is not the most important platform. It’s important to use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram wisely, but it’s even more important that we really walk the walk and act on our values.
“… Here’s the thing: No matter what we’re saying online, it does not matter if we’re not saying it at home. I can say a thousand things to my followers, but if I’m not holding my friends accountable, if I’m not holding myself accountable, then the talking and the grandstanding is just that — it’s empty.” – Luvvie Ajayi Jones
Ask yourself, “Who is watching me? Who is looking at me as a role model? How can I hold myself and my friends accountable?” It doesn’t matter if you have five followers or five million — you’ve got to speak your truth to the people around you.
Luvvie has had many jobs! Like I mentioned earlier, she does a little bit of writing, a little bit of podcasting, a little bit of speaking — she’s truly multi-talented! But for all her talent with words, would you believe Luvvie blogged consistency for 17 years before considering herself a writer?
It’s true! In 2012, a producer who worked in Hollywood emailed Luvvie and invited her to attend the Academy Awards as a writer. That moment was the clincher for her — she finally felt she could consider herself a professional writer.
Recently I’ve been doing a lot of research for my new book, which is about overcoming self-doubt. It turns out, fear of failure is one of the top three causes of self-doubt. That fear can stop you from pursuing what you want.
Luvvie understands the fear of not wanting to jump into your dreams with both feet. It can be really frightening — that fear of failure is real. But you don’t need to have physical success in order to have faith in yourself and your ability to reach your goals.
“We can absolutely believe. … Part of the message … that I tell people is like, it took that moment, that very clear literal moment of being in the room for me to say, ‘Oh, got it.’ But for other people, I’m like, ‘You can skip that stage!’ … If you truly believe you have this gift, you can go all-in!” – Luvvie Ajayi Jones
Are you letting the fear of failure hold you back from your dreams? I want to challenge you to give yourself permission to go all-in. I want you to see your gifts for what they are and grow into the greatest version of yourself.
“I think oftentimes we deny our gifts. We deny our purpose because we’re afraid of what could come with it. We’re afraid of what happens when you actually own this because we’re afraid of the failure that could be attached to it. … But I also think we make that judgment call on ourselves of what does failure actually look like, right? What does it look like to fail as a writer? … I think to fail as a writer is to just stop writing. So we just have to kind of switch the idea of what failure looks like so we can be less afraid of it …” – Luvvie Ajayi Jones
Don’t fear failure, guys. As Luvvie said — the only way to fail as a writer is to stop writing. It’s exactly the same for whatever you might be working on! Whether you’re an athlete, a businessperson, a public speaker, or anything else, the only way to fail is to stop trying.
So change the definition of failure in your mind and go after your dreams! Jump in with both feet and pursue them with all you’ve got.
Many of you guys have probably watched Luvvie’s awesome TED Talk, Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable. It’s a fantastic speech, and she shares a lot of wisdom, but there’s one idea I want to focus on.
In her TED Talk, Luvvie talks about “being the first domino.” Have you ever played with dominos? You know how, when you set up a line of dominos and knock over the first one, you get to watch a really cool chain reaction where all the dominoes fall down? It’s fun to watch, and I had to ask Luvvie what she meant by using that image in her talk.
“Being the first domino is about doing something that feels deeply uncomfortable, that you’re like, ‘I don’t want to do this. I’m going to do it anyway,’ knowing that you might be on an island by yourself, whatever that thing is. … So it looks different every single day in all different areas, and I really want us to honor those moments.” – Luvvie Ajayi Jones
Doing something uncomfortable is just like being the first domino. When you do something difficult, you inspire other people to do the same. You set off a chain reaction where everybody overcomes self-doubt and fear. And that makes the world a greater place.
Before Luvvie gave her now-famous TED Talk, she actually passed up the invitation twice. She’s a busy woman with many speaking engagements on her calendar, so when a representative from TED asked her to give a talk with only a couple of weeks’ notice, Luvvie said no. She just didn’t feel comfortable writing a speech so quickly.
But ultimately, Luvvie had to say yes to that opportunity. She wrote her speech in Uber rides in between other appearances and had to keep a tight schedule the day of the talk.
And guess what? That speech has inspired thousands of people. Luvvie walked off the stage that day prepared to rush off to her next event, but quickly had to walk back out there when she got a standing ovation! And since the speech was posted online and featured on the TED homepage, it’s received 5 million views.
That’s a whole lot of dominoes.
Luvvie literally inspired millions of people just by doing one thing that felt uncomfortable to her. She made the world a better place.
How can you be the first domino? What uncomfortable thing could you do to light someone else’s fire and make the world better?
Luvvie Ajayi Jones is an incredible person. Her humor, honesty, and willingness to confront tough issues are truly inspiring. I was especially excited to ask her my “three truths” question because I knew she’d bring the wisdom.
“The first truth is: joy is always necessary. Second truth is: the truth is always necessary. … Third truth is: love is always necessary.” – Luvvie Ajayi Jones
It doesn’t get any simpler than that!
If you enjoyed this episode and you want to connect with Luvvie, there are a ton of ways to do that! You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She also has an app called LuvvNation, which is Luvvie’s curated social media platform for thoughtful conversations without any hate.
Also, don’t forget to check out Luvvie’s podcast, Rants & Randomness, and her book, I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual. And stay tuned, because Luvvie’s working on a new book, and it’s going to be huge!
I am so excited to share this conversation with you. If you’re finding value in Luvvie’s wisdom, make sure you share it as well with someone who needs to hear it! We could all use the encouragement to chase our dreams and not let fear and failure get in the way of becoming who we’re meant to be!
Join me on Episode 977 to learn how to embrace discomfort while chasing your dreams with the wonderful Luvvie Ajayi Jones!
Sound good? Then join me on Episode 977 with Luvvie Ajayi Jones!