Be Safe and Bored, or Reach for the Gold
Recently I watched the 2007 movie Lions for Lambs. In this movie, a brilliant but apathetic student asks his professor (Robert Redford), “Is there any difference in trying but failing, and simply failing to try – if you end up in the same place anyway?” He was attempting to justify taking the safe route, never really taking a stand or trying anything big.
What do you think? Do you cringe at trying something big because of the possibility of failure? What if you tried for the promotion but failed to get it, started a business but lost your investment, or tried a MLM system but got nothing other than a garage full of vitamins – are you somehow better off? Or would your life have been better if you had avoided the hassle and the disappointment altogether?
Yes, I’m hearing from people every day who tried and failed. One gentleman lost $11 million in a family gas and oil business. Another lost $3.2 million inherited from his grandmother in a failed retail clothing business. A close friend lost $24 million in a failed real estate development. Research shows that if you are under thirty years old, there is 90% chance you will be fired sometime in the next twenty years. Bernie Marcus was fired from a job as manager of the Handy Dan Improvement Center, then went on to start Home Depot. In 1988, I experienced a horrible “failure” in business – having to borrow a car to drive to start generating income again. Should I have avoided the pain and anguish by taking a safer route, or was that experience the necessary catalyst for learning the principles that launched the success I enjoy today?
My theory is that you will be a brighter, better person for trying something big – even if you “fail.”
I can’t find the quotation I know I’ve heard so I’ll improvise, but essentially it’s this:
“If failure is not a possibility then winning is not so sweet.” Think about it: when you play a football game, the possibility of losing is what makes winning so stinking rewarding. Isn’t that how it is with just about everything? I hear from people every day who have nice big guaranteed salaries – and they’re bored out of their minds. It’s the people who strike out into uncharted waters who get the thrill of victory.
I’m totally confident of this: If you’re not trying something right now where you have a strong possibility of failure, you’re life is boring. I want to constantly be trying new things where I have a 50-50 chance of succeeding. All the new directions in my business this year had the possibility of not working; Coaching Mastery Program, Innovate Event, 48 Days Mastermind, The Ultimate Advantage Cruise, the new book I’m writing. All the major things I’m doing this year had the potential to not work – and the jury is still out on some.
What has your life experience taught you about trying big things? Have you learned to keep a low profile to avoid failure? Or have you found that “failure” leads to bigger successes?