I’ve often heard it said that when you’re lying on your death bed, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did. I’m sure that’s not a universal truth, but as I progress in age, I can see how true that maxim is. We all have things we wished we would have done when given the opportunity. You don’t have to be dying to look back and realize there were some missed opportunities along the way. We all miss opportunities every day. Of course, there’s nothing you can do about the past and the opportunities you missed other than trying to minimize those mistakes in the future.
How often do we miss opportunities, or fail to try to do something simply because we are afraid to fail? Think about it. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Would you start a new business? Would you go back to school? Maybe you’d simply introduce yourself and start a conversation with someone you respect. The fear of failing can be overwhelming and prevent us from reaching for our dreams. You always fail when you don’t try. Ask yourself: What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
Unfortunately, there’s rarely anything that’s a sure thing. Any risk you take will, by definition, have a possible downside, depending on the outcome. So, if we can’t eliminate risk from our activities, is the question presented one of fantasy? Is asking what you’d do if you couldn’t fail any different than asking what you’d do if you could fly on your own, or if you won the Powerball? These things are fun to think about but have limited value in our lives. Maybe in order to get to make the question relevant to your life, you have to redefine the definition of fail.
What if failing was defined as not trying? What if you lived your life refusing to allow the possibility that things will not turn out as you hope, and recognizing that every result offers a new opportunity. What if you lived your life believing the only way to lose is not to try? You’ll never reach a goal without trying. If you do, then your goal was either a joke, or no goal at all.
Nothing in this diatribe is meant to insinuate that you should try anything without considering the realities of the situation. While I wouldn’t try to fly a plane without taking the proper training and precautions, I could take lessons and learn to fly if that’s what I really want to do. The road to most goals is made up of many baby steps. The need to try doesn’t eliminate the work required to reach the goal; it’s the fuse that needs to be lit in order to succeed in life’s endeavors.
Look for opportunities to try this week. Take some risks and add some excitement to your life by reaching for more than low hanging fruit. There’s nothing more fulfilling than accomplishing something you didn’t think you could do. You don’t have to live your whole life without a net, but sometimes, it’s the only way to go. That’s true for everybody, especially those of us way up in the CHEAP SEATS!
Bill James is a criminal defense lawyer and co-founder of the James Law Firm, which has locations in Little Rock, Conway, and Fayetteville, Ark. Most people like him better after they get to know him. He may be reached at either Bill@JamesFirm.com or 501-375-Bill.