Am I Good Enough? 391 Agents Say No

Overcoming the Fear, Doubt and Rejection for Founders and Creatives

Matt Ward
Matt Ward
Aug 28 · 6 min read

Another rejection. Another no.

Some days are hard to get out of bed. The motivation is gone, the drive is dead… the world has spoken. Should I just quit? What’s the point?

As entrepreneurs, as creatives, we suffer rejection and doubt on a daily basis. I’ve faced failure more times than I can count, but this time is different. This time is personal.

Am I good enough? Will anyone ever like my book? Will the podcast ever hit New & Noteworthy?

These are just some of the myriad of depressing thoughts laying siege to my mind. And it is depressing, and it is a siege. As innovators, we’re more prone to depression and despair for the simple fact that we lay more of ourselves on the line, stripped bare for the world to see.

It hurts, especially in failure.

I’ve submitted my manuscript to 391 agents. Not a single yes, 56 HARD NO’s and few enough bites to even call it fishing. I messed up, I submitted too early, before I knew what I was doing.

I moved fast and broke things. I didn’t work…

Did I ruin my chance? Was that it? Was I really that bad, that inadequate?

Life as an entrepreneur’s lonely. Being a creative’s tough too. The highs are high as can be, but the lows are brutal. And we ALL feel them. Don’t let any half-assed “everything’s going great” or “I’m so excited for…” at meetups and conferences fool you.

Everyone is bullshitting you. Every. Single. One.

Fear, rejection and uncertainty — they fuck with all of us. It’s core to being human. Who am I? What’s my purpose? Plenty of people offer pithy replies but we all have doubts, we all have insecurities.

Don’t let others take that right from you. And it is a right. It’s your right to say, “I feel like shit,” “I’m scared,” “I don’t know if this is going to work” because it’s the truth.

And pithy though it is, the truth, in many ways, sets us free. We feel so much better getting emotions out. And suppressing them is a ticking time bomb.

Social media sugarcoats life. It makes us depressed. Life’s meant to have highs and lows — and so is entrepreneurship — but FOMO and highlight-reel comparisons are the best shortcuts to unhappiness I know.

We’re our own worst critics

It’s not good enough. It could be better. I should have worked harder.

How could I have been so stupid?

I submitted my book before it was ready. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I was an idiot. I should have known better.

But I didn’t. Is there any point dwelling on the past, beating myself up over it? Live and learn, right?

It’s easy to say but damn… it ain’t easy to do.

Our brains evolved to keep us alive, keep us safe. Don’t stand out, don’t take risks . BE AVERAGE. Anything less — or more — was dangerous. We faced hunger, famine, being kicked out of the tribe… Don’t disturb the pack.

The world’s evolved, we haven’t. We’re still plagued with these once helpful thoughts, but now they paralyze us.

Who am I?

The world can’t see your failures, it often overlooks your flaws. So, why can’t we do the same? What is it about us, about me, that ties my self-image and self-worth to my results, my success, my career?

Who am I? Am I an author, a podcaster, an entrepreneur? What about father, son, athlete? How do I define myself? Should I even try?

Entrepreneurs and creatives fall victim to this more than most. Again, putting yourself out there. You're vulnerable, sharing your truest self with the world. What if they reject you, what if your book’s turned down, your show’s canned, your startup’s shuttered?

What does that mean for you, for your image? Are you finished? Are you forced to try again to be something, to be worth something?

Does your life have no value? Does mine?

The meaning of life

Religious leanings aside, we all strive for purpose and meaning. Science suggests it’s the most important aspect of a happy, healthy life — in addition to strong relationships.

But for something so vital, we understand so little of this existential question. Why are we here? What’s my purpose? Is it all for nothing…

Nihilism isn’t helpful, or healthy.

The meaning of life is to find your purpose, and share it with others.

That’s the best definition I’ve ever seen. It encompasses everything. It’s the north star, something so many past podcast guests have referenced. And yet, it’s anything but easy.

How do I find my life’s purpose? Can it change?

Purpose and productivity

If you’re not careful, the search for purpose becomes a quest for productivity. And NOTHING is worse than solving the wrong problem, pursuing the wrong path.

That’s a lot of pressure. It can drive you nuts, it certainly does for me at times. Am I living up to my potential? Could I contribute more?

The search can be empowering, or overwhelming. It depends on how you view it. Just look at college. How many kids go for a four-year degree, change majors three times and have NO idea what they want to do with their life? Almost every one. And even certainty is deceptive.

The average American will have twelve different careers throughout their life as they seek purpose — and pay — to make it all make sense. And there is nothing wrong with that.

No one has all the answers.

And fewer still have the answers for you.

There’s no textbook, no self-help — suddenly everything is better — guide to live your life.

You have to feel like shit, find out who you are and tackle the existential questions we all face.

It’s not easy, but the good things in life rarely are.

You are powerful — and destructive — beyond measure

Every human being comes endowed by nature with certain unalienable powers and passions. We’re tuning forks primed to share greatness with the world, IF we can overcome our inner critics.

Everyone has something to contribute, if we can get out of our own way.

My doubts and fears can be crippling.

I’m sure yours can as well.

But you’ve got greatness inside you.

If you but heed the bell.

We all suffer. The world is hard enough as it is. Don’t make it worse on yourself by bundling up your fears and failures.

“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” —Brené Brown

Show the ultimate strength, choose yourself. If you don’t, who else will?

Please consider sharing this on social media if you think our world’s ‘everything’s great’ culture is crushing the very greatness we’re all capable of.

You’re good enough, and so am I.

But we all fail, we all fall.

I’m going to publish this book, inner demons be damned. Watch me. Now, it’s your turn!

Click the 👏 to say “I am good enough!” and help others find this article.

You can follow me on Twitter: @mattwardio and subscribe to my newsletter here:

PS. You’re awesome. Now, go. Be the change you want to see in the world.

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.

Matt Ward

Written by

Matt Ward

Investor, Startup Advisor & Business Coach: | Entrepreneur, Author, Tech Podcaster: | Investing: | 3 Exits @mattwardio

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade