What If I Fail?


You’re unsure of how your conservative, closed-minded parents might react when you finally choose to come out of the closet. You are terrified, but you bravely decide to tell them anyway. Your best friend rolls her eyes, as you explain the non-profit that you’ve poured your heart and soul into — it’s finally coming to life; she could care less. You choose to make a difference anyway. Or it’s the novel you’ve been writing in your head, for years. Finally, you make a leap of faith by taking that which has lived in your imagination, and commit to writing it , still unsure of how it might end. So, nervously, you decide to share it with your college English professor. He thinks it’s complete shit, but your bruised ego brushes it off, choosing to finish it anyway.

We live in a world shaped, almost entirely, by people who’ve acted on some idea or vision for how they thought the world could be better, and as a result, took action in bringing something to life. We all have ideas, but rarely do most of us act on them. What’s holding us back, keeping us from taking that risky leap into showing the world what’s truly important to us? It’s not that Henry Ford, Steve Jobs and Martin Luther King Jr. changed the world without facing adversity and the need to persevere, they did however, leverage a unique vision of the world. They knew it could be better, and took a chance. Time and time again, we see successful people decide to show up, willing to take a risk, all the while knowing that there’s absolutely no guarantee.

But why?

What is it about them that’s different from most of us and the way in which we operate?

I’ve failed as much as anybody, and it's been heartbreaking at times. I’ve started businesses that have failed, I've bombed TV appearances, and without a doubt, being a chef, I’ve cooked my fair share of meals of which I was proud and stood behind, though customers, at times, have had different opinions. I've been trusted with their hard-earned dollars and sometimes I, regretfully let them down. I hate this, we all do, however born from this moment is also an opportunity. It's given me the chance to unravel what these failures mean, however large or small, and determine how to better execute next time around. This process has, almost always, opened the door into some of my best work. Every decision we make in our lives is predicated on previous experiences. It’s the choices we make, consciously or not (and not making a choice, is itself a choice) and the opportunity we extract from them that ultimately write the narrative of our lives. Some of us feed off of this opportunity, using new possibilities as catalyzing forces in order to tackle new challenges. Others are absolutely paralyzed by it. A question mark in the future scares the hell out of us — we are wired this way. Our lives are a mass brainwashing of society, in order to discourage us from thinking for ourselves. We are funneled into the herd. We are encouraged to fit in, because,

“How will I be judged?”

Failure is a part of life. It sucks putting one’s self (time, money, energy) out there for something and realizing somewhere along the way it’s not going to work out. I’ve been there before, and so have you. Ever been dumped? Cut from the team? Not hired for a job?

Often, we carve this pit of anxiety into our stomachs, warning ourselves of who we might let down. What will they think of me now? First of all, a welcomed sigh of relief should be had in knowing that almost anyone coming from a place of ridicule or judgement, most likely doesn’t matter. It’s the bully in high school making fun of you for being cut from the basketball team, or the school play, but him? Oh, he didn’t even try out. The ones who matter are there in the arena with us, or are at least cheering us on from the sidelines. They recognize the courage it takes, in order to try something that might not work. The heckling haters from the cheap seats will always be there to point out our shortcomings. Even in our successes, they’ll insist that they could have done it better. Yeah, the chatter sucks, it takes developing thick and pliable skin, as well as constant personal reminders that we aren’t in the game for them. At the end of the day, we aren’t even in it for the ones supporting us — we’re in it for ourselves, and for something we care enough about to take a chance on.

My advice? Know the critics are there. They’ll often be making a lot more chatter than everyone else. Well-done, that means you’re doing something right and standing up for something worth talking about. Not if, but when you fall, just dust yourself off, and be ready to jump back into the game, hopefully taking some lessons with you for the next go round.

“What will I lose if I fail?”

What will I lose? Time? Money? The opportunity to get back in the game to try again? These are important questions to ask. I wouldn’t suggest a forty two year old father of three to go out, and put it all out on the line, however, I do think there are calculated, smaller risks that he can take. There are things we can all do, in order to move the needle for something important to us. We’ve got to find that sweet spot, though, and it’s different for all of us.

Discovering ways to get over these two hurdles, is in essence, what it means to be an entrepreneur.

Success is found, not in seeing the destination, and then choosing a path that comfortably carries us to the doorsteps of success, but rather it’s in trying different paths that don’t work, until, one day we find one that does. What’s learned, is not the map to success, because that’s always changing, and is never alike for two people, but rather that there is a road, and it’s up to each of us to find the way that works for us. Every maze, without fail, has a way out. Though it might be difficult, trial and error allows us to envision and piece together what this road map looks like. No one tells us how to get there, but we do uncover clues along the way that help connect the dots.

The destination is a beautiful place, but the iterations along, they are just as important, allowing us to see how we got there. They give us a frame of reference for another venture, that will lead us down another path, and towards something else that might not work.

If I succeed, what will the world look like?

Failure is absolutely a possiblity, but so is success. Decide to go for it anyway, and you’ll find, that almost always, in the end, it will have been completely worth it.

Figure out what’s important to you, and make the world a better place by sharing it with us, in your unique way.

I implore you to take the leap. Embrace the scary question mark, turning them into beautiful opportunities.

Maybe the better question is:

“What If I Succeed?”

- CHRIS HILL

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