Keep Trudging - You're Almost There

There’s this really amazing moment on The Tim Ferriss Show podcast episode with Brandon Stanton, the founder of Humans of New York, where he says through tears: “The only thing that kept me from thinking about the possibility of failing was just doing it.”

His family and friends were doubting him. He had little if any social and blog following. He knew only two people in NYC at the time - and spent Christmas alone, photographing. He was living off of unemployment benefits and PB&J sandwiches in an apartment he’d sublet off Craigslist. And he was walking around the city all day every day asking strangers’ permission to take their photographs. When he looked around, things weren’t good. Yet, he was on a big mission to take 10,000 photographs of 10,000 New Yorkers.

In many moments, he doubted himself. He doubted that he could make happen what he’d set out to. He doubted that he could pivot this movement into something meaningful, something that people would pay attention to.

But he kept going. He kept working. Day after day, month after month, and eventually year after year - he went out every day and took photos. No matter what he felt, no matter what day was on the calendar.

It’s in these moments of self-doubt — we all have them — that our destinies are shaped.

Those that are willing to feel it and lean into it stand a chance of breaking through (to the next level of self-doubt). Those of us that shy away from continuing out of fear don’t stand a chance whatsoever.

It’s tough to know when you’re investing your time, money, energy, passion, and love into something that’s a lost cause. But I say, if your heart beats for something, if you feel that there’s a greater purpose flowing through your veins, follow it. Work through the self-doubt by continuing to put in the work.

If you have something, something that your gut tells you is real, don’t turn it down for anyone.

Trudge on, my friend.

You will figure it out.

Humans of New York has worked because it documents raw moments like the one captured in this podcast episode. It shows real human beings in real time. It captures moments of vulnerability, honesty, and truth. Humans just being humans, nothing more.

Our view of what it takes to do be great and do something meaningful is skewed.

The truth is so much more complex than the stories we tell ourselves in hindsight, maybe even including Brandon’s. Choosing to go for it against the wishes of everyone in your life is hard. Most people didn’t know they would succeed; they hoped they would. Many decisions we make are not “hell yes” or “hell no.” They’re 51/49.

This is an unsexy reality. But it’s often the truth.

Greatness comes from pushing through the doubts and fears, not eradicating them.

Kate Ward