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beyourkey.com I would take every piece of feedback personally, as if rather than trying to help me people were actually secretly telling me that my work wasn't good enough, that I was doing everything wrong.  It was a selfish perspective to think that everything was about me personally. I couldn't separate myself from my work and the things I created, and most importantly recognize that maybe people were trying to help me rather than hurt me.  What I failed to see was the critical distinction between criticism and feedback. Between words that were personally directed at me and words that were directed at my work and making it better.  The only way I found for being more open to feedback was to ask for more of it about everything. At the end of every email, in every meeting, always making sure to ask for feedback. Whether it was a picture I had taken, a slide I had created, or a website I had made - "what do you think about this and how would you make it better?" I realized that I could never improve completely on my own. If you pick up a golf club and never look at what others do, never ask for how to improve your swing, you'll never get better. There's only so much that we can teach ourselves before we plateau and stop improving.  It's only when we're able to get someone to look at what we're doing, and to use their years of experience and knowledge to help guide us in the right direction that we improve.

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beyourkey.com What it really is, is that I get scared to put myself and my work out in front of the rest of the world, and so perfection is my excuse for never sharing the things I'm working on. As humans, we crave the acceptance of others, and so we get scared of what other people will think of us if we show them something that we think doesn't conform to their "expectations". Rather than admitting that we're afraid of what others might say - or worse, might say when they actually think something else - we hide behind excuses. "It's not perfect yet and so I don't want to show it." "The time's not right so I'll show it later." "They won't take it seriously so it's not even worth showing them." The time's never going to be right. It's never going to be perfect. Some people will always be jerks. And so you have to either be willing to put yourself out in the world, or admit that you're never going to do it and accept that you're more comfortable with following whatever it is you think everyone expects from you. I hate showing off a new project. It's scary. My stomach gets tensed up, I feel my heart beat faster, my hands get sweaty, and I feel this urge to constantly clear my throat out of nervousness. And that's just from sharing a project with strangers. But that's the only way that we can grow and move forward is by putting ourselves and our projects out into the world. You'll never be a singer if you only sing in the shower. You'll never be a writer if you only write for yourself. You'll never be an entrepreneur if you're the only customer. Learn to recognize when you're making excuses and make that moment of recognition the moment where you say "Screw it, let's show the world."

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beyourkey.com You could give me any idea, and I'd be able to tell you exactly why it was a bad idea and wasn't going to succeed.  It finally got to a point where one day at school the teacher kept me after class and said "You have to stop being so negative. You're ruining the class for everyone by stifling everyone's creativity." As an over-confident 14 year old I thought I was was showing off how smart I was. It was hard to hear, but he was right. I was ruining the class for everyone and I also wasn't benefiting myself at all.  It's the easiest thing in the world to be negative. It's why we gossip. It's why the Internet is full of trolls and nasty comments on blogs. It's why the news is filled with negativity and fear.  When we can behind the mask of anonymity - or even when we don't care if the other person knows - it becomes easy to lash out and tear down those people that are putting their ideas and themselves out into the world.  I wish I could say that the day he told me to stop being so negative that I changed my life. I didn't. Change is hard and negativity is easy. But I did try and improve a little bit each day.  I'm still not perfect but I've tried every day since then to try and improve. To put positivity and love out into the world rather than negativity and hate. To support and nurture people's ideas rather than to shoot them down.  What I've found is that people like to be around positive people. They like to be around people that support them, that give them ideas. And most importantly that if you put positivity and love out into the world, it returns to you a thousand times over. What will you share with the world today: a cynical and negative worldview that shuts down every possibility, or a positive and idea filled worldview that marvels at all the opportunity in the world?

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beyourkey.com I desperately want to be able to play an instrument. I've had so many dreams of strumming the ukulele, or belting out the blues on a harmonica that I've bought each instrument multiple times.  And each time after about a week or two it gets placed on a shelf to collect dust, only to be occasionally picked up.  Eventually I realized there's a difference between a dream and a passion. Of course I dream about being able to play the ukulele or shred the harmonica (admittedly an odd musical combination!) but I'm not passionate about the idea of playing music.  Passionate is what makes it so that when you're out at dinner with friends, or you're on an airplane coming back from vacation, that you can stop your foot from bouncing up and down because you can't wait to get back to whatever project you're working on.  I dream about many things, and I'm passionate about many others, but the place I've always managed to find success is at the intersection of my dreams and my passions.  Dreams are what get you thinking big, daring to reach for things that seem impossible. Passion is what drives you to pursue that dream day in and day out and do the hard work of making it a reality.  While there are things that we can be passionate about without having a dream, pursuing a dream without passion behind it is a waste of time. Think of people that want to be bankers just because they think it will make them rich.  Or people that go to law school because they can't think of anything else to do.  They see those things as a dream (I'll make lots of money, I'll be a powerful lawyer) but if they're not backed up with passion they lead to frustration and unhappiness.  Very often I have to remind myself about this lesson and ask whether I'm spending my time in the right way, on things I'm passionate about, that I dream about, and that I know together will lead to success.  What do you dream about that you're passionate enough about to pursue?

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beyourkey.com I played tennis with my ex-girlfriend once and then we never played again. It was her first time playing tennis and she was upset that she didn't play well. And so she never played tennis again because she didn't play well the first time she tried to play. That's an unfortunate perspective to have. Of course we're going to suck the first time we do something. And probably the second, third, and even keep making mistakes years later. If you expect to be good at everything the first time you do it then you're probably going to spend your life giving up at everything. Every overnight success takes 15 years, but nobody talks about that overnight success for the first 14 years. And so we live in a world where it seems like success and skill are just handed out and happen overnight to everyone except us. But that's simply not how the world works. Tiger Woods didn't become truly famous as a golfer until he won his first Master's at the age of 21 - at which point he had been playing golf for 19 years. So be ok with sucking and being bad at new things. Of course you're going to be bad at them, and so you have to keep plugging away at it, getting just a little bit better each and every day. What are you going to suck at today so that you can be great in the future?

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