Ever get that tight, clutchy feeling inside that says, "Uh-uh, there's no way I can do this!" Yes, we all have. This is not all bad: it's your personal internal protection monitor. It is that which keeps you safe in life.

Problem is, it also keeps you bored. It can even make you a bore.

Sometimes the protection monitor is a very useful thing to have; say, when you're standing on the very edge of a crumbling precipice at the Grand Canyon with a one-half-mile drop in front of you, and it's screaming at you, "Stop this silliness!" Very helpful, at those times. However, if your protection monitor is set on high all the time and everything beyond the entirely-too-comfortable-for-the-comfort- zone range makes you feel helplessly squeamish, it may be time to reset that danger thermostat.

If so, ask yourself, "Self, wouldn't you like to make a go at really experiencing life?" You know the answer. Dare to be uncomfortable and you dare to succeed.


Give Yourself Permission to Fail

It's really very simple to get started; all you have to do is allow yourself to fail. Cough, sputter, pardon me? Yes, you heard me: allow yourself to fail. Here's the thing: when we get all pent up inside and go into self-protection overdrive, we build walls to keep out precisely those new experiences and opportunities that would otherwise make our businesses ``flourish.

Sometimes it's the fear of making a fool of ourselves. Sometimes it's the fear of not looking good enough. Sometimes we don't even know what it's fear of...it's just fear--plain, generic, vanilla fear. No matter: the death of fear is permission to fail.

You want to know the most amazing part of this remedy? It's how much you will in fact not need to take advantage of that permission. And yes, there will be a few stumbles as well.

Start by expanding your horizons right now. Make a list of all the things you wish you could do, but "know" you can't.

Now, quit thinking about that, and start devising an action plan for just one of the items on the list.


The Magic of Doing It Badly

Before you start, use a tool many writers implement to get past writer's block: tell yourself that your first step is to do it very, very badly. (E.B. White said, "The best writing is rewriting." Hemingway put it a little less politely: "The first draft of anything is crap.")

This is about action, not perfection. It's about changing your internal paradigm so that you can move towards more opportunity. By accepting failure as a possible bottom line, you allow yourself to risk toward greater success. You make the expectation comfortable while venturing into something new and uncomfortable.

Let's take a simple example. When I was teaching my daughter how to bake cookies, her perfectionism kept getting in the way of her success. The first batch (more accurately, the first botch) turned out badly; she cried and cried, determined never to bake cookies again. While soothing her ruffled ego, I explained my approach to a new recipe, which is simply the way I approach learning anything new. Realizing that I know nothing about the new recipe, I plan on botching it up and then improving from there.

Now, my daughter uses this technique not only for learning to cook, but for learning to do anything new; she is finally allowing herself to thrive!


Failing Towards Million-Dollar Success

Am I suggesting you make a life-long habit of doing things badly? Of course not. Always give it your best shot. But at the same time, give your poor psyche a break; allow yourself the generosity of a learning curve. Perfectionism will kill your creativity, be it in business planning, public speaking, writing, communication, or relationships. (Or, yes, in cooking.)

When you are confronted with what you perceive as a failure, turn it into a stepping stone instead of a wall. See your next effort as better than the last and your abilities will soar; so will your confidence, because confidence is built as much on little failures that get better as it is on big successes that get bigger. Perhaps more so.

Do you know how many failures the "average" entrepreneur-millionaire (is that an oxymoron?) leaves in his or her trail? Approximately 18. Eighteen! And every one of them taught, strengthened and pushed those achievers forward. Trust me when I say that somewhere along the way of experiencing 18 failures, they decided to allow these failures and learn from them in order eventually to succeed.

So, what are you still sitting here for? Go out and try something scary and new. Break the internal bonds that keep you nice and safe and paycheck-predictable. Let yourself fail toward your success. I dare you!


ANNE MARIE BAUGH is a national publicist and consultant to leaders in network marketing.