The Prescription for Self-Doubt: Watch This Video

298 Comments

Business icons, superstar professional athletes, billionaires — it doesn’t matter how rich or how accomplished — I’ve had them all tell me the same thing…

There are moments when you feel the world is too much. Days and even weeks when you want to (or perhaps do) pull up the covers and half-sleep in bed until nightfall, avoiding a feeling of hopelessness that seems insurmountable. Long-awaited deals fall through without warning, haters attack you without reason or fact, circumstances turn good decisions into awful realities — sometimes it just feels like the deck is stacked against you and there is nothing you can do about it.

I’ve felt the same on more than a few occasions, and more are coming.

Entrepreneurs in particular seem prone to feeling on top of the world one minute, only to feel crushed by it the next.

To this breed, I assure you all: in our species, it’s normal.

It’s an integral part of building anything remarkable, whether a business, a relationship, or a life. Expanding your sphere of comfort and abilities comes with a cost: repeated self-doubt.

I thank my mother for forwarding me the above video to put things in perspective. In your moments of self-doubt, I encourage you to watch it and meditate on all of the things you’ve done that you once considering impossible. The odds you’ve overcome, the critics you’ve proven wrong, and the small defeats that — through making you stronger and smarter — made huge victories possible later.

Get back up. Bigger and better things are waiting for you.

Related and suggested reading:
Harnessing Entrepreneurial Manic-Depression: Making the Rollercoaster Work for You
Depression: How You Label Determines How You Feel

Posted on: January 12, 2009.

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298 comments on “The Prescription for Self-Doubt: Watch This Video

    • This was a great post Tim thanks for the video its some great insight. I know being an Entrepreneur self doubt can be one of the biggest opsticals. Procrastination is your worst enemy along with self doubt. Its Important to keep your self goal oriented and stay focused completling one task after another until the day is finally over… or at least you get a point were you can justify stopping for the day, the day is truely never over when you own your own business.

      Like

    • Please re-read the following sentence:

      “I encourage you to watch it and meditate on all of the things you’ve done that you once considering impossible.”

      I think you meant “considered” not “considering”.

      Like

  1. Wow, What a wonderful man!
    I’ll be bookmarking this vid to revisit when I need a boost.

    Tim, your book and blog rock. You’re a fountain of inspiration.
    Thanks for all you do. :)

    Like

  2. I once listened to a speaker who talked about throwing yourself a “pity party.” The idea was that you would just give in and wallow in self pity, but only for 15 minutes. And once you’d cathartically released the pity, move on.

    When these things happen, and happen they certainly do, I think it’s good to just give yourself a day to close the curtains and retreat from the world rather than try to “man up” or tough it out. Sometimes you just have to turn off the switch and recharge the emotional batteries.

    But once that is done the key is to just get back in the game. You don’t have to get right back on top of the world immediately, in fact you should most definitely avoid trying. The key is simply to get yourself back in play. Things will inevitably start going your way again. One thing leads to another and feeling on top of the world again takes care of itself.

    Like

  3. Hi Tim,

    Amy here. Yes, you’re assistant! You’ve made my day! After one of the longest most stressful days, not from your work of course, other ‘matters and circumstances’, you have captured in word, and in the video, the strength that each one of us possesses. Thanks Dude, for the happy post, you rock!

    — Amy

    Like

  4. Your posts are always very insightful, informative, and inspiring. Every post is a meaningful post and bring up new ideas that I haven’t seen before. In no way are any of your posts generic or repetitive.

    I definitely enjoy how you’ve conquered your fears. Not only that, but doing it in effective and efficient ways. I’m working on conquering ballroom and have started investing time in it – recently signing up for a class and learning as much as I can from students in the class who have been there for quite sometime. Conquering a fear is one of the best feelings in the world.

    This post really hit the spot. Thanks for all the shared ideas!

    Like

  5. Wow Tim. Thank you for sharing this and thank your mom for sending it your way. Just when I was thinking that the doubts I face about my self and choices I’ve made were big – this comes along and humbles me. I’m grateful for the opportunities I have to make a difference for the people I care about. I’m grateful to you because your book (and now blog too!) inspired me to open up to things I’d never imagined doing. This fellow is a reminder to us all of the power of our thoughts and intentions. Be the change! Peace.

    Like

  6. Incredible guy – and he is so absolutely right.

    I once knew a guy (in Belgium) who couldn’t move – he was lying in his bed full time. The only thing he could move was his head.

    And yet, he owned his own private company, and was very successful doing so.

    These people do inspire us!

    Thanks to your mom for sharing :-)

    Koen

    Like

  7. I find temporal skills really help – either drawing from the past, or projecting in the future.

    When that won’t work, there’s a comfort in knowing that you made your best play for the current situation. And when you get knocked down, you get up again with another lesson under your belt of how not to do something.

    Like

  8. All to often we find ourselves focusing on the negatives and not looking back on all the things we have actually achieved. Often, we achieve some great things on auto-pilot without even realising. Self doubt is a stumbling block for many high achievers, but with perspective through insights such as this we can overcome this and realise that most of the time we do truly do some amazing things.

    Nice simple post with a strong message Tim, I like it.

    Like

  9. Tim, thanks for posting that, refreshing reminder of all the amazing things going on in the world.

    Chris, I agree, so often we don’t notice our accomplishments or the people we have affected because we haven’t reached the desired outcome yet – I’ve found that it’s often in those low moments of introspection that the realisation of how much we have done comes!

    Like

  10. Tim,

    That was incredible! I’d love to hear/read you chat to/interview that guy some day! I think that would be an incredible idea…

    More posts like that would be amazing. Thanks for sharing.

    David

    Like

  11. Hey Tim, that young guy is an incredible inspiration, thanks for sharing the video. You should be thankful for your mom for keeping you up during hard times, we’re not all that lucky! :)

    I was sad to see the hate directed your way earlier this week, and I know how it is when you feel like the world’s against you. I hope you don’t let it slow you down though, you know there are a ton of us who’ve benefited from all you’ve done and are behind you, man! Cheers!

    Like

  12. WOW this really gave me a reality check! I was about to give up on a biz I have been working at for 3 years and thought I was a failure but this just makes me realize that to suceed you must fail, and learn from your mistakes. Maybe the biz will work out, maybe it won’t, but at least I learnt something from it and I won’t give up until I have nothin left in me!
    Thanks Tim, your book and posts are what keep me going with all my silly ideas, one day, one of them will pay off…..

    Like

  13. Having found myself in one such mood yesterday, a friend reminded me “Feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders gives you something solid to push against”.

    I’m now primed to start pushing again, but it’s reassuring to read Tim suffers from the same self-doubts.

    Like

  14. Wow Tim, thanks for that, incredible.

    Yes, it had me in tears of admiration.

    Here I am with cashflow problems coming out of my ears feeling that every day is becoming a challenge simply to try and move forward and then along comes this!!

    I have always prided myself on my ability to bounce back but hell, this guy is supreme.

    Thanks for sharing it – and thanks to your mother too

    Keith

    Like

  15. Action cures fears. Organize your room, grab a book to read or just find some rewarding repetitive task to tackle with. It works.

    Even then, there are those moments of deep existential feeling that strike you on an idle Tuesday and put you into the role of Sartre’s Antoine Roquentin. Seems common among right-brainers and smart folks with lots of free time.

    Slightly different than the self-doubt, here everything is calm and fine — but just way too much, and I’ve learned that this nihilism, despite insightful, can be quite unproductive since it kidnaps your natural excitement. And this aloofness and idleness can also escalate to self-doubt quite too soon.

    From my experience, pushing yourself into extreme, self-imposed challenges helps to drive you back into a (Csíkszentmihályi’s) flow mood and break the spell. (Hmmm, I guess I’ll just run 30 blocks today to eat in my fav restaurant.)

    Tim, what is your rule of thumb for those cases?

    Cheers from Rio,
    —André

    Like

  16. Great Post Tim, I really believe most of the things we are most proud of come from our biggest challenges and problems. We just need to remind ourselves of that everytime we have a challenge / Problem – somehow its always easier to forget.

    Like

  17. Tim,
    What great timing this was for me – thank you so very much. My business is drowning in debt, got a notice from unemployment that I owe them $7,200 from a failed business in 1989 and was thinking about suicide.

    Thanks for helping me look at things so very differently. I know there is another way.

    Like

  18. Wow, I love videos like this.

    My goal in life is to help people experience realizations that help them “get back up” in which ever area of life they are falling down. This is an AWESOME lesson and EVERYONE should watch.

    I will be reposting this today. This is greatly needed!

    Thanks for the post!

    Like

  19. “Entrepreneurs in particular seem prone to feeling on top of the world one minute, only to feel crushed by it the next.”
    I find it very comforting to have someone else express this… :)

    I suppose when you are just running the rat race, everything seems pretty steady. It’s when you want to stick your neck out and achieve big things that the ride seems more choppy, with emotional ups and downs.

    Thanks Tim for bringing things into perspective.

    Cheers,
    Adam

    Like

  20. I live in Korea, and know enough Korean to translate the subtitles, which mention a lot of stuff the dialogue leaves out.

    :23: Nick was born in Australia in 1982 with no arms or legs and only a very small left foot.

    :32: But as Nick grew to to be a boy, he noticed he was different and instead of hope, could only learn despair.

    :42 (translation of English)

    1:08: Instead of a school for the disabled, Nick attended a regular school.

    1:14: But as he continued to grow, he gradually took on greater challenges

    1:20 : In college, he double majored in accounting and finance, and expanded the scope of his activities

    1:26: And now, Nick’s job is teaching others how to be happy

    1:28 (Translation from English)

    5:07: Disabilities may be inconvenient, but they are not misfortunes. –Helen Keller–

    Like

  21. Hey Tim,

    This blog post could not have been more perfectly timed for me. As I ‘put my self out there’ in doing more on camera and even just blogging work (with my muse) I realized how much I’m exposing myself to more harsh comments from the peanut gallery.

    When I first started this I was blown away at how intense people could be with their comments and there were many days I felt like you described above. But, your right “Get back up- Bigger and better things are waiting for you”. My life has radically changed since I started this and better things have already showed up! Thanks for the post.

    Best,
    Rob

    Like

  22. As a mother to a little boy with mild disabilities this speaks volumes. It reminds me that giving up is selfish…Who am I to give up, what right do I have to roll over and die when my son has no choice but to keep going. I need to be there to pick HIM up when he has fallen and to teach him how to master this art when I am gone.

    The days when I beat myself up for not accomplishing whatever trivial task I have at hand I only have to look at my son (and others like him) who has no choice but to persevere. He is also too young to realize that not trying is an option. When did we lose that childlike fortitude? Giving up is the only true failure in my book.

    Tim, Thank your Mom for pointing out the sometimes-not -so-obvious~

    Like

  23. I think that we too often forget what most of us are lucky enough to come to the table with – namely a core of stability. Having good health and the ability to at least attempt anything counts for a lot. Too bad it’s often forgotten.

    I was just taking a look at something which was reminding readers to remain mindful of the simple power behind having a place to sleep, food to eat etc. The much-hyped “consumption” mindset makes it easy to forget what really matters.

    Ahhh… the power of maintaining perspective.

    Like

  24. Add my voice to the chorus of “thank you’s.” Like some of the other commenters, the timing couldn’t be better. But we all have little “mosquitoes” biting us every day. His achievements put our day2day worries into perspective.

    Like

  25. Wow. That’s a great clip to start the day. It’s always good to have a reminder that our life really isn’t that hard as we make it sometimes. Not that it’s not hard, but that we often make it out to be worse than it really is.
    Thanks, Tim

    pwc

    Like

  26. How do you handle these feelings of self-doubt and depression when it comes to relationships that turned bad or are for whatever reason over? I’m sure you’ve had your share of dates and relationships and break-ups, but you still are single. Why? What are the lessons you’ve learned?

    Like

  27. Tim – Great post!

    I’ve met this guy. He is a force of nature and one of the greatest public speakers I’ve ever experienced. Very impressive man irrespective of the number of limbs he has.

    Thanks,
    Don

    Like

  28. When I watch people like that in the video, or even people on Oprah who have overcome unbelievable odds and challenges, it definitely puts things in perspective. Thanks for the reminder.

    You know I was waiting for the bus the other night and I was complaining in my head that I wish I had a car. But then as I sat on the bus, I realized that I had my health, I was working, I was happy. So really I had nothing to complain about.

    People like the above video, well we need more people like that!

    Like

  29. I’ve seen him in countless vidoes and posted one of them at my blog a while back. He continues to inspire me to no end. His disability makes mine seem like nothing (I’m profoundly deaf).

    This article truly reasonated with me because I happen to be in a funk where self doubt appears to be having its way with me and this is a guy who was a former stockbroker, the world’s first deaf instrument rated pilot!

    So yes, you are right – EVERYONE has their moments when they want to stay in bed with the covers over their heads and not venture outside. I’ve had those moments, for sure.

    Your article today was the kick I needed to get moving. The moment I start moving, miracles happen.

    Thanks Tim.

    Like

  30. The is an awesome and powerful message. The path to success in life and business is marked by many obstacles and everyone on the path to success falls. To achieve success we must get up and keep going. Thanks for sharing!!!

    Like

  31. Thanks for the AWESOME reminder that how our little problems of traffic and paper jams mean nothing to the problems of the world..Make it a better day.Thanks again for the inspiration!!

    Like

  32. Hi Tim,

    Great reminder. I actually met Nick and talked to him. The dude is powerful and my life will never be the same because of him.

    We are on a mission; and we are not stopping until we change the world.

    I highly suggest that you go and hear Nick speak.

    It will change you. We all have the power to change!!

    Darin

    Like

  33. As long as it’s not over-the-top self doubt it can keep your ego in check. Once it get to the sheets over the head though, it’s time to kick it in gear and push forward. Much of this doubt stems from fear and FDR said in best: “we have nothing to fear, but fear itself.

    Like

  34. Tim,
    Ah your Mom is a smart lady. When life throws daggers at you or things that you want in life are not arriving immediately, it may be because something better is in store you for you. You may have all your limbs but your past challenges brought your greatest triumphs. Would you have appreciated your success if it came so easily? Well I am sure for my own little battles won, I wished for less fight but hey that’s not how the game of life is won and I would most likely be less intelligent. Ha-ha! You are an inspiration Tim! Even when other people may tear you down, an opportunity is lost, or love still is in waiting, know that there is only one of you in this world and we are all better because you came to play in the field of life during this time. Keep being creative, brave and balls out yourself.

    Hugs,
    Jen

    Like

  35. Thanks for the reminder and the video. When I get in a funk I always start out thinking that I’m the only one…and sometimes, like now, mercifully, I get reminded that it’s normal, it will pass, and we all go through it.

    Like

  36. Thank you very much for this. Yes, we will all finish STRONG. And in the meantime, we get up, we take things one thing at a time – perhaps on certain days, a hundred things at a time. In this moment, I am in awe of this man and the grace that he shares through his courage and story.

    Like

  37. Nick is truly inspiring and I found his words of wisdom to bring joy to my heart. His ability to tell his story from a place of truth and determination lead me to believe their is nothing we can’t accomplish even in my own moments of self-doubt. I would welcome the opportunity to sit down and talk with Nick. Having served people with disabilites for over twenty-six years, he is an affirmation of why I entered the field, “I see people’s abilities not their disabilities”.
    Thank you Tim for an inspiring post.

    Regards,
    Scott

    Like

  38. my apologies,

    i know this off topic. but Tim (or anyone else out there) , can u PLEEEEEAAASE explain or do a video tutorial on how you are able to only workout once a week for 30 min. while working out your entire body?!

    I strength train also, but I am unable to get a good workout for my entire body that can fit into a 30 minute session once a week. its seems impossible.

    HELP!
    -lost in Washington D.C.

    Like

  39. Thanks Tim’s Mom….a little bit of perspective … seems like that task right in front of me just got a little smaller… beautiful post Tim.

    ( BTW many thanks for the heads up post on Total Leadership with Stewart Friedman a while back.The book is changing the way I approach 2009. Happy New Year. It’s going to be a fun one.)

    Like

  40. Tim, I recieved your book as birthday gift on Dec 8 2008. On January 1 2009 i quite my job…..of 24 years to pursue my own path. Now when self doubt sets in i’ll remember the Aussie with no limps.. and like him when i do fall or stumble i’ll get right back up again and again and again. thanks for the inspiration and motivation. I would love to share my story with any person needing a little self confidense.

    Like

  41. Tim, I broke down when I saw it…. What a lesson..I just missed meeting you in Madrid last year.. My wife and I were there 3 days later..Would love to meet you some day!

    Like

  42. It’s people like him that make me feel like a chump when I get down about “my life”. Most of us have it so good, especially in the U.S., compared to so many others.

    A recent song intro has really changed my outlook:

    “What you need to do is be thankful for the life you got.
    You know what I’m sayin’.
    Stop looking at what you ain’t got
    And start bein’ thankful for what you do got.”
    – T.I. : Live Your Life

    Like

  43. It took me 10 years to gain the courage to do what I really wanted to do — Improv. Last night I had my first class at the famous second city in chicago and for the first time in my life I feel incredibly accomplished. This was the perfect posting for today. I think that there are a lot of similarities between this post and what I learned in my impov class last night. Improv teaches you that, yeah, you’re going to fuck up A LOT… but so does everyone. So get back up on your feet and try again.

    Thanks for this! You’re a true inspiration!

    Like

  44. I called out of work today. I’ve been wandering around my empty home aimlessly for hours, cursing myself and all of existence. This video made me weep. There is hope yet. Thank you, Tim.

    Like

  45. That was so powerful. The post alone was something I needed to read. Then to see the amazing video, it brought me to tears. I’ve been a very successful entreprenuer over the years and yet there are many days I feel like a failure. As successful as I’ve been I don’t get it. It was good to read that we all feel the same thing. And in this tough economy that is affecting me and so many others, it was great to get this post and the reminder.

    I love your posts Tim as there have been many things that have been very helpful for my businesses, but this for me is your best post to date.

    Thank you.

    Michael

    Like

  46. Tim, I’ve seen Nick Vujicic before somewhere online and was immediately moved, as you were and as your readers, no doubt are as well.

    Some people are clearly here on this earth to remind us of what is possible in life: of the seemingly unsurmountable obstacles we can overcome; of the love we can absorb from others just by being there for them as well.

    Nick is one of those amazing people.

    For those interested, here is Nick’s website: http://www.attitudeisaltitude.com/

    Thanks for spreading his message!

    And cheer up yourself!

    Cheers, Doc

    Like

  47. Tim, I came to your blog today to start a new project I’m calling “Deconstructing Tim Ferriss.” No worries, this project is strictly for me, not for publication; the goal is to figure out why I love your work so much and carry that into my own creations.

    Yesterday, Merlin Mann led me to a website with an intriguing idea but content that couldn’t hold my attention. After checking it out, I went to your blog where you just happened to be discussing the exact same website, and I devoured every word. Now here’s the kicker, I tend to write more like the original (i.e. boring) author, and I really want to improve for my readers. Hence, the Deconstructing Tim Ferriss project.

    This post is the perfect place to start. You are authentic, caring and full of life. Thank you (and your mom) for encouraging us all.

    Like

  48. Having left my office early to wallow in yet another disappointment, I came across this post while, errhm… in bed and under the covers with plans to hide until nightfall. This uplifting post has not only made me smile, but I actually felt my negative mood crack and now a trickle of optimism is leaking back in. To further push my mood in the right direction, I’m going to hit up a pilates class before going back to the office to burn some midnight oil coming up with ideas on ways to recover from this major set back.

    Thanks for being so spot-on once again Tim. Maybe you’ll share more of Mama Ferriss’ golden nuggets of inspiration with us in the future?

    Like

  49. I came across this blog last night. It was the first thing on my screen and came at a point in my life and business where I face many difficult obstacles. This is another reminder of why we should never give up.

    Like

  50. Thank you for sharing everyone! Made me feel better that I am not alone feeling overwhelmed by the world at times…

    Greetings from New Zealand where I’m taking my first “mini retirement” this year…

    Like

  51. Tim – Off topic, but did you see the cover of Inc. Magazine this month? They interviewed a guy who makes $10 million a year working an hour a day. Sounds like a guy you should interview.

    Like

  52. I wish I could remember who said it before me, but I can’t. which is a paradox on what I’m about to say:
    “If you think you can, or you think you can’t – You’re right!”
    We limit ourselves with our own thoughts. There are no physical limitation, only mental.
    Nick is a great example. with all the apparent physical limitations, he managed to do so much.
    It is truly inspirational.

    Thanks Tim for sharing!

    Like

  53. Thanks for the video, Tim.

    We have all heard of and know the validity of advice to “keep going”, “try, try and try again”, “never give up”, “pick yourself up again” etc – sometimes when people find themselves in a rut, however, the words don’t give quite enough motivation.

    Videos like this give a real world demonstration of inner strength and serve as great inspiration when we need it.

    Like

  54. “Days and even weeks when you want to (or perhaps do) pull up the covers and half-sleep in bed until nightfall, avoiding a feeling of hopelessness that seems insurmountable.”

    This statement is so true for so many. Everyone goes through ruts when all they want to do is hide under the covers, half-sleeping until they can manage to drag themselves out of bed to go to the bathroom or eat something or God forbid venture out of the house into the real world.

    Whenever feelings like the above hit me, for some reason I tend to remember the stupid Cymbalta commercials that end up depressing me even more – “I’m one of those people in the commercials, how sad, time for another nap!”.

    While prescription medication is certainly needed for some circumstances; Videos like this are exactly what most people need for a boost of motivation and happiness. Sometimes you just have to ask yourself “Is life really that bad?”

    Thanks for the extremely motivating post, Tim.

    Like

  55. Hi Tim,

    It was as if somthing was pushing me to come to this post. Today I faced many problems at work and home and was sitting here thinking Its hopeless.
    This video shattered me.
    I cannot look at myself in the mirror. I was worried about things which compared to Nicks challenges are nothing. Nothing at all. I feel like suddenly I’ve become like a blank page, all my excuses and problems wiped off.
    Thank you Tim. You have already changed my life and started my journey towards a better future. And continue to be a source of massive inspiration.
    Thank you from London.

    Like