Want to take a risk that people warn will be embarrassing? Good.

When I took a sales job after college, some of my friends made it clear that they thought I was making a mistake. They were “concerned,” they said, about my stutter.

“What if you make a fool of yourself?” they said.

After I quit that sales job and moved to Barcelona without work, some of my friends made it clear they thought I was making a mistake. They worried I’d feel stupid, they said, when I inevitably gave up on Spain and moved back to the U.S.

After my wife and I started a family, I decided to begin publishing my writing. Some of my friends made it clear they thought I was making a mistake. Still, they tried to be “supportive.” They read my posts. “People love embarrassing stories,” they said.

I wish I could say, with the benefit of hindsight, that my friends were wrong. But they weren’t.

I did make a fool of myself for the first few months of my sales job. Some days I had a hard time even introducing myself to clients; I’ve always found words that begin with the letter “M” to be especially challenging, and of course my name is Mike.

But within six months, I was the top employee on the sales floor (turns out there is real power in listening). Within the year, I was promoted to manager. I’d made a fool of myself, sure, but it had ultimately paid off.

I wish I could say, with the benefit of hindsight, that my friends were wrong. But they weren’t.

When I moved to Barcelona, I did embarrass myself. Some days I called my mom in tears, lonely and running down my savings.

But within six months, I was teaching English to multinational companies and giving business seminars to government agencies — and later that year, I walked into a room to give a talk and saw the most beautiful woman in the world. Spain, where I spent my first few months feeling stupid and in over my head, is also where I eventually met my wife. Today, we have two cool little boys.

When I first shared my writing online, I did embarrass myself. I wrote posts that cast me in a bad light, and posts that weren’t very good. I made tons of mistakes in the process.

But within six months, my work was being read by hundreds of thousands of people, and I received supportive messages from all over the world. Later that year, my name appeared in many business publications, which opened the door for me to build friendships with people I had previously admired only from afar. The decision to embarrass myself helped me to discover that I had a real passion for writing, and that I could even be good at it.

Want to take a risk that people warn will be embarrassing? Good. Do it anyway. It’s better to get beaten on the field than to be stuck on the sidelines. Get out there and embarrass the hell out of yourself.

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This article first appeared in Forge (Medium.com)

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