One of the most important questions you can ever ask yourself is, “What’s the worst that could happen?” I’m no scientist or psychologist (or whatever smart person career covers human behavior), but I believe we are hard wired to be way more cautious than we should be.
When confronted with something we might not be good at, something risky, something daring, or something new we have this tendency to be extremely cautious. I guess the familiar is comforting in some way, but that isn’t where my best stories come from.
One of the biggest lessons I learned when training for the half-ironman race was that your mind thinks you should stop long before your body is actually in any danger at all. There were days when I was 4 or 5 miles into a run after a 30 or 40 mile bike ride and my mind was telling me that I should stop.
I knew better, not because I had ever done it before, but because my coach told me this was the training plan for the day. Training like this was all new to me. It wasn’t new to my coach. She had been there before. It reminds me of one of my all time favorite scenes from The West Wing:
There is always a good chance that whatever you want to do has been done before and someone has done it without dying. So I evaluate everything with that question, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”
In every single situation someone has stepped up and said a version of, “I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.” Every. Single. Time.
As long as I’m not doing something immoral or illegal and death isn’t likely, I’ll try it. If the worst that can happen is personal embarrassment, then who cares? If you fail, then who cares? If you find out you hate it, then who cares?
I have learned more about myself in the midst of situations where I am completely out of my element than I ever have when I am completely comfortable. I hope you will make that a part of your story, too. What’s the worst that could happen?