If You Aren’t Screwing Up, You’re Aiming Too Low

It’s hard to grow if you don’t put yourself in situations that make you question your confidence.

Michael Thompson
Published in
4 min readOct 29, 2021


Photo: Shutterstock

“Thank you, I really appreciate the opportunity.”

And with that, I said goodbye, hung up the phone, patted myself on the back for being the most talented person in my empty room, and then proceeded to dive head-first into self-destructive mode imagining all the different ways I could screw up an opportunity that was a month away.

Over the last two decades, I’ve worked across three continents in half a dozen different sectors. The circumstances changed. So did the titles. But no matter the stakes, from starting my own company to publishing a simple article, my baseline is terrified.

For whatever reason, I thought life would get easier the longer I lived it.

Like most people, I’ve had some hard falls. I’ve been laughed at. I know what it’s like to lose a boatload of money. Despite the bumps, bruises, and times I’ve felt like I was bleeding out, over the last twenty years my overall confidence has consistently been trending up.

I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish.

I’m proud that I’ve moved from a shy, stuttering kid to a shy, and at times, still stuttering mostly functional member of society who makes a living in the world of sales, entrepreneurship, and coaching.

I’m proud of the fact I’ve made my obstacle my way.

I know I should change my framing from nervous to excited like all those professional athletes do during interviews. I’ve tried. It sticks sometimes. Other times, not so much.

I’m not a professional athlete. No matter the accolades or recognition, at times, I still don’t feel very professional at all.

Recently, however, I’ve begun to give myself a bit of a break. I’ve realized I don’t ever want to not feel scared, or nervous, or terrified when starting something new.

It would mean I’m aiming too low.

It would mean I’m not putting myself in a position to grow.



Michael Thompson
Writer for

Co-creator of two cool kids • Storytelling Coach •.Fast Co., Insider, Forbes • Free storytelling guide here: https://bit.ly/3h1KZeT