Corey Wilks, Psy.D.

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The Fledgling Mindset

“How’s your fledgling business going?”

Rychelle and I were staying at our friends’—Nick “Chewy” Albin and his wife Jess—house for New Year’s and had just started to catch up when Chewy asked me for the update. It’d been about seven months since Rychelle and I had moved from Louisville, KY to Austin, TX to be around more creators and entrepreneurs, so we had plenty to catch up on.

It was a simple question, but my first thought was, I don’t have a fledgling business! I’ve been an entrepreneur for three years!

But then I realized, compared to Chewy—who’s been a creator and entrepreneur for over a decade, my three years is a piddly amount.

Chewy co-owns an MMA gym, has a YouTube channel with over 350,000 subscribers, hundreds of thousands of followers across social media, an email list with tens of thousands of subscribers, over a dozen digital products, travels the world doing seminars, a podcast, and has a handful of other current projects and ones under development.

What do I have? A few thousand newsletter subscribers and social media followers, a couple of digital products, a YouTube channel with under 500 subscribers, a small podcast, and a website with a little over 100 articles?

Chewy’s published 1,400 YouTube videos. I’ve published 31.

Until that question, my business didn’t feel like a fledgling. But it is.

Which is…incredibly freeing.

Because when I look at all the things I want to do and feel pressured that I haven’t done “enough,” the realization that I have a fledgling business gives me a sense of peace that I think far too many of us are missing in our day-to-day lives.

  • It’s so easy to compare ourselves to people several steps ahead and feel chronically behind. But what did their business look like when they were at the same point in their journey as we are right now?
  • It’s so easy to hear about the outliers in our industry and feel like a failure—the ones who hit 6-7 figures in followers and revenue their first year online. But the reason we hear about outliers is because they’re so uncommon—we have to remember they’re the exception, not the norm.
  • It’s so easy to focus on how far we have to go and lose hope. But we can’t lose sight of how far we’ve come.

We put so much pressure on ourselves to already have it all figured out that we rob ourselves of the joy of striving to figure it out.

But if we zoom out, our perspective shifts and a sense of peace can start to wash over us.

I love having a fledgling business. And if I think about it, most businesses are fledglings. Because just as a fledgling eagle has just had its first flight and is yet to reach full maturity and grow into an adult eagle, a fledgling business is yet to reach its potential.

No matter how successful I become.

No matter how large my business grows.

No matter how many people I get to help.

I’ll always have a fledgling mindset because there will always be unrealized potential I’m striving to achieve.

Even in BJJ—I’ve trained for over 10 years. In every other martial art or area of life, I’d be considered an expert. But I still feel like a fledgling, which helps me maintain a “beginner’s mind” when it comes to learning. If I put some bullshit pressure on myself to already know everything, then I’d fossilize instead of continuing to grow.

Embracing a fledgling mindset allows me to stay curious, to experiment, and to strive to improve. If I think I’m supposed to have already figured everything out, I don’t give myself the space to grow.

Think about who’s happier on average: kids (aka, fledglings) or adults.

  • When a kid doesn’t know something, they’re excited to explore and learn more.
  • When an adult doesn’t know something, they beat themselves up for not already knowing it and are resistant to taking corrective action.

A fledgling mindset is an antidote to all the self-imposed pressure to already have everything figured out.

If I ever feel like I’ve achieved everything, done everything, and helped everyone—then all that will be left to do is lie in a grave and cover myself with dirt.

Because here’s what I’ve realized…

If you’re not growing, you’re dying—that’s entropy in action. Striving toward something gives life meaning, and nothing in nature strives more than a fledgling. So a meaningful life is one where we embrace being a fledgling in whatever areas resonate with us the most.

So strive…

  • Strive to learn, grow, and explore.
  • Strive to do the things only you can do.
  • Strive to put yourself and your ideas out into the world.

Strive—as only a fledgling can.


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