People fear failure. That fear both drives people and keeps them from accomplishing things. Imagine then you stop believing in failure.
Once you take the word out of your vocabulary, then you change your stance from 'surviving failure' to 'working through obstacles'.
If you're optimistic, then you can't fail. If you set out to climb a mountain and you don't make it to the top, have you failed? Did you get exercise, enjoy the scenery, think interesting thoughts? Someone who uses the word failure is someone who lets themselves sabotage themselves.
When the college I wanted to go to rejected me, I wrote a letter and was admitted. When I was laid off from my job I took it as an opportunity and increased my income by almost 50%. In these moments of fear I allowed myself to wallow in self-pity for a minute but I never felt I had failed. I struggled, I problem solved, I came up with a plan, I struggled some more, I picked myself up, I started over and I learned.
Learning instead of failing takes the fear out of challenge. My favorite question is, "What is the worst thing that could happen?"
I'm hoping I don't have to make the same mistakes twice, but even if I do, then I know the lessons will be slightly easier the second time.
A friend of mine fantasized about moving to New York for years. Decades even. She talked to people about it. She put plans in place. But after years of talking about it, people stopped believing she would actually do it. Apartments that she investigated got rented, friends moved away, jobs dried up. She was paralyzed with fear. I heard a lot of, "But I should be doing something more with my career. Everyone else has a fancy job, mine barely pays the bills. I should be settling down. I should focus on meeting someone rather than traveling all of the time. Maybe I'll buy a house since that's what everyone else is doing."
Last week I went to see her in New York. It was not like her to be paralyzed by should haves. As we walked the High Line from Chelsea to Penn Station, she looked around with excitement. I live here! I can't believe it took me so long. What was I afraid of?
Your brain makes up stories about the future. But the truth is, there is no way to know what will happen in the future. No matter how many birth plans you write up in anticipation of the day your baby decides to arrive, nothing ever goes as planned. You cannot plan for the future. Let me repeat that. You cannot plan for the future. You can be prepared, but you cannot pretend that you know what is going to happen. It could be better than expected, it could be worse, but the point is, if you don't try, you won't know.
If you aren't afraid to fail then you aren't afraid to live the way you want to live.
Jaime Bancroft Gennaro is the CEO of Neologic, a digital experience agency with an imagination lab. Neologic is proud of their two in-house projects: Cornbread App and Poetry for Robots @jaimegennaro @neologicpdx
Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.
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