Fear & Failure

Fear and Failure by Dr. Robert Gerwig

Photo by Author

The food was good, the companionship amazing and the diving was world-class. Anilao. Batangas, Philippines. If you dive, you may have heard of it. If not, check it out. If you don’t dive, I hope take my word for it. It’s a great destination that lived up to the hype. A handful of friends recently converged on Anilao for a couple days of great diving – an adventure. We were not disappointed. Was it worth the effort? Yes! Would I go back? Yes. Was it easy? Not so much. Worth it, but not easy.

Let me explain. Anilao is not in a city. It is not just off a large interstate highway or freeway. It is not easy to reach. Though by no means the most difficult of destinations, it took some planning and effort to reach. We took a plane from Cebu to Manila. We stayed overnight. We got up at 5am the following morning and drove 3 hours to Anilao. Some good roads. Some not so good. Some open highway. Some traffic. The room I stayed in had hot water half the time. The other half of the time? Cold showers. Not a crazy adventure, but not a trip to the mall either.

Yes, there were some calculated risks. The plane could’ve been late (or crashed). The weather could’ve been foul (eg a typhoon) and ruined the opportunity to dive. The car could’ve broken down. I could continue to list any number of potential risks. Yet, if we’d allowed the fear of failure or the fear of “blank” to prevent us from going, our adventure would never have taken place. No amazing stories. No amazing dives. No amazing experiences.

Obviously there is a balance. You should fear some things. Some risks aren’t worth taking. And failure is a real possibility that should be evaluated (so as to avoid it). Your level of risk is your own and there certainly is a distribution of risk-tolerance that varies from person to person.

Yet I see, too often, people afraid to make a decision. People afraid to speak the truth. People afraid to take an adventure. Why? Laziness. Fear. Procrastination. … World-class leaders in all fields make a conscious and deliberate choice to engage life, to experience it and to make a difference. They take calculated risks. They have adventures. They get up and do things. They become better in the process.

I’m currently involved in a critical decision in a professional part of my life. As is often the case, there are other stakeholders involved. In fact, I need to get buy-in/approval from one stakeholder group in particular before I can move on to the next step in the process. Yet, they won’t make the decision. They won’t say “yes.” They won’t say “no.” There is risk either way in this case. They fear failure. Instead of evaluating the situation. Evaluating risks. Minimizing risks where it makes sense and then moving on, they are “stuck.” They won’t move on.

Maybe they’d be a better a decision-maker if they took an adventure to Anilao. Maybe they’d know how to mitigate risks better if they got off the couch. Maybe their professional value would increase if they took calculated risks and experienced life.

How about you? Do you fear failure? Do you procrastinate? If so, you’re missing out. Get off the couch and experience life. Take an adventure. See something. It will make you feel better. You’ll feel energized. It will help you grow. Your perspective will improve. In short, take a calculated risk and enjoy life.

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

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