Over the past couple of weeks I have been working with clients and colleagues who have been too scared to pursue their passions. All the ‘what if’s’ looming large in holding them back; What if it doesn’t work out? What if other people see me fail? What if it is too hard? Consequently, they don’t even get started. They become distracted, they procrastinate, they hide, and they turn numb. They want a guarantee that it will all work out. Furthermore, they want to know precisely how, when, and where it will all go down. The uncertainty becomes overwhelming, so we don’t start. We prefer the comfort of holding back to the vulnerability of getting starting, putting ourselves out there, showing our face to the world. This got me thinking…..Would it really be ideal to know? To know well in advance exactly how our new uncertain endeavor will play out? That we will succeed without struggle and be 100% successful. I’m not so sure…….Maybe the fun, the thrill, our legacy actually lives in the uncertainty, in the challenge, in the pursuit. As I not so patiently wait patiently for game 7 of the World Series to start, would I want to know to that my beloved Tribe will win? My first reaction is to say yes, but the longer I sit with this, maybe not. Maybe the excitement really is in watching it all unfold. If I knew the score well in advance, would I want to watch the game? Would I feel the same? If the players knew they would win, would they try as hard? Would it be as gratifying? Would they be compelled to throw buckets of ice cold water over their coach and bathe in champagne?
Theodore Roosevelt was quoted as saying this
“Far better is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure….than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
To me this is analogous to have a sports car in your driveway that you never drive. You fill up the tank, you wash it, wax it, store it for the winter, but never take it out for a spin, worried that it may break down, or get a scratch on it, so there it sits and it rusts.
What many of us don’t realize is that not starting our new enterprise is actually just failing ahead of time. If we don’t put ourselves out there, we are not pursuing our passion, we have given up in advance. So failure really is certain then. We are that sports car, meant to handle high speeds, just sitting in our driveways. When we are on the open road, we meet people, we have adventures, we build memories, none of this possible in the safety of our own home, or in the driveway. Yes, accidents can happen, and there will be wear and tear on the vehicle, but mistakes provide lessons. No pain, no gain. So let’s all get comfortable, with being uncomfortable and uncertain, because I am certain that is where the fun resides. See you on the open road baseball fans and passion pursuers. Mindyourstrength.com
Postscript. So my Indians lost in heartbreaking fashion. And the ride they took all season, all post season, and all throughout the historic game 7 was spectacular. While I wish they would have won, the sheer disbelief and joy I felt when Rajai hit the game tying home run in the 8th is something I’ll never forget, and neither will the bitter sting of losing. But the journey, as bittersweet as the ending turned out to be, was better than knowing the ending in advance.