“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask 'What if I fall?'
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?" – Erin Hanson
When there is a risk, there must be something that is unknown or has an unknown outcome.There is an uncertainty that may cause us to be tentative, cautious, anxious, even afraid. When this happens our internal self drifts toward self-doubt and away from self-confidence.
We need to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Risk is all around us. Even when you don't take a risk, you risk. You risk missing opportunities that will remain unknown; you risk finding out who you really are and what you are capable of; you risk living short of your potential and growing beyond your wildest imagination.
Some adults have a fear of failure often influenced by the messages they received growing up. Some people rather play it safe than be sorry. But what is failure? I believe failure is denying the impulse to try and refusing the embrace of the unknown.
Real failure happens when we fear making mistakes so much that we avoid and procrastinate and stay in our safety box where the familiar and comfortable reside. Young people are so anxious about being humiliated, or seen as incompetent/inadequate by peers, teachers, co-workers, who themselves have vulnerabilities and flaws.
I am not sure why we are so hyper-sensitive about being seen as lesser than another based on our performance. I am however, sure that we deny ourselves the freedom we are entitled to make mistakes, to take risks, to live out of our comfort zone. Sir Alexander Fleming, a Scottish researcher is credited with the discovery of penicillin in 1928, was often referred to as the careless lab technician. Upon returning from vacation he found a mold had developed on an accidentally contaminated staphylococcus culture plate. This accidental discovery ultimately changed the course of medicine.
Jim Carrey is a comedic legend, yet during his first performance at Yuk Yuk's, a comedy club in Toronto, he was booed off the stage. Albert Einstein, one of the greatest thinkers, failed his entrance exam to Swiss Federal Polytechnic school located in Zurich. Bill Gates worth 80 billion dollars, failed at his first software company called Traf-O-Data which analyzed raw traffic logs. Michael Jordan, arguably the best basketball player in history, was cut from his high school basketball team in his sophomore year. I could go on with a long list of notable people who have failed including J.K. Rowlings, who wrote the Harry Potter series, yet was initially rejected by all twelve major publishing houses.
Not every failure will turn into a success, but every failure will make you stronger and wiser---more attuned to the things you want out of life, and more knowledgable on just how to go about getting there. Every risk will offer its own, unique reward.
If you have held yourself back from chasing a dream, experiencing an adventure, imagining and creating an off the grid idea, taking a risk, give yourself permission to exit your safety box. As J.K. Rowling said, "It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default."