- July 13, 2012
"What great thing would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" Robert H. Schuller
Well? What would it be? Think about it.
Ok, now think about what would constitute “failure” in this scenario?
- Does it mean you would try to run a marathon and not cross the finish line?
- Does it mean you would try to learn Mandarin and not become a fluent speaker?
- Does it mean you would ask someone out on a date and get turned down?
Even if you made the attempt and “failed” you’d be further ahead than you are now. You might have run 20 miles or have learned conversational Mandarin or re-entered the dating game, rolled the dice and survived rejection. Chances are you had some interesting experiences along the way. Maybe you met interesting people, saw interesting places or learned something about yourself. These all have significant value.
When we look at life as a series of successes or failures, the risks we may want to consider suddenly feel too weighty. While fantasies of success may motivate us to give something a try, often the fear of failure keeps us from even thinking about trying.
We literally put certain desires, curiosities, and interests out of our minds because even thinking about failure is so threatening.
What if you lived in an alternate universe where you simply COULD NOT FAIL?
Guess what? You already live in that universe – you just need to tweak your approach a bit and ditch that fear of failure!
Put on your white lab coat and become a scientist in your own life.
Imagine living your life as a series of science experiments fueled by curiosity. You try different combinations, mixing some of this with some of that and just see what happens. You may like the outcome of any given experiment and you may not. Either way, it’s just an experiment, something to try out.
Remember as a kid when you just randomly mixed the paint colors together to see what new color you might come up with? Sometimes you got a cool shade of electric blue/green and other times just a muddy grey/brown? (If you are thinking, “I never mixed the paint colors as a kid – I was too worried about messing up all the perfect colors!”, even more reason to start mixing PRONTO).
If you like your color, you may duplicate that experiment and do more of that combination. If you are disappointed with your color, you might be curious enough to look and see why you ended up with that particular shade or you may just say “whatever” and move on to try something new.
If you rip off your lab coat and storm out of the lab after every experiment that doesn't go the way you had hoped, you'll never discover anything new! We discover new things about ourselves and about the world by trying new experiences. We may experience something pleasing or we may experience something we don’t like – either way we have expanded our horizons and have grown in some small (or big) way!
"I haven't failed. I've identified 10,000 ways this doesn’t work." – Thomas Edison
(Disclaimer: In this article, I am referring to taking emotional risks, experiences that challenge our self-worth, self-perception, or ego. I do not endorse the same approach for any physical risks that may result in injury, illness or death.)