Sometimes I wonder what the world would look like if we all dared a little more. If we were able to put aside our fear of failure, rejection, and shame, and just... took more risks.
I am pretty sure the answer is: a whole lot of crazy, beautiful magic.
I am convinced that judgment is the problem here. Once our vague perception becomes our opinion and our opinion becomes our reality… alea iacta est. This is the point of no return when the ship has sailed, the dice have fallen and Elvis has left the building – basically, that moment when you make up your mind about someone and… judge.
Sans judgment, my guess is that the following would happen:
✶ In the absence of judgment, we wouldn't mind falling. We would get right back up, feeling supported by the people around us who would commend us for having tried in the first place.
✶ In the absence of judgment, we would feel free to express ourselves fully, explore possibilities thoroughly, and seize opportunities more readily.
✶ Finally, In the absence of judgment, we would feel comfortable sharing our successes and - most importantly - our failures. Our vulnerability would be out there, visible for everyone to see (and comment on) while we proudly admit: “It is ok to dare and fail! It is ok to be …. human!”
While magical, sadly, this is a utopian scenario in which waiting for humankind's realization that judgment is of no service to anyone would most likely turn into a Waiting for Godot - situation. (In case, you haven’t read the book, Godot never arrives).
So, what to do?
We can start by distancing ourselves from striving for outside acknowledgment, approval, and acceptance and instead focus on recognizing, nourishing, and strengthening our inner passions.
And here is how:
1. Accept failure
Be prepared for failure and the subsequent pain that follows. Failure is a natural part of life and therefore an involuntary companion on your risk-taking journey. There are two things that are important to remember here:
When we fail, we have at least tried. Which means we can never regret not trying. And isn't this an empowering feeling? Trying, attempting, endeavoring, seeking, striving, aiming, and yes.... struggling... isn't this so much more rewarding than never having tried in the first place?
Or in Paulo Coehlo's words:
It's better to cross the line and suffer the consequences than to just stare at the line for the rest of your life.
Secondly, let's remember that we all need to start somewhere. Every single successful person has had their shares of failures and the only thing that differentiates these people from others is that that they didn't give up. They chose not to quit. They allowed themselves to pass through the pain of failure, dusted themselves off, and tried again. And again. And again.
Until, one day, they realized that their continuous effort, patience, resilience, and sheer refusal to resign brought them here: success.
2. Rejection equals redirection
We often consider rejection synonymous with failure and we all know the following scenario too well: we open our hearts (to someone or something) and it is scary. We become vulnerable and that is even scarier. Already feeling insecure we are then ....rejected. Now, we feel immense pain which manifests as shame (what will people think of me? who am I to have tried this in the first place?). So we quickly close our hearts and promise ourselves to never, ever let down our guard again because THIS was embarrassing! Right?
THIS was not embarrassing. It was brave. And the entity telling you that rejection is embarrassing is not you but your ego (the part of you who reacts to the outside world and deeply cares about what other people think). So, if we (try our hardest and) take the ego out of the equation, we can see rejection for what it actually is: a guidepost that prevents us from going the wrong way while redirecting us to something that is actually meant for us.
And since a subtle whisper would often not suffice (we are strong-willed humans, after all!), redirection often materializes as loud and painful rejection. That way, we are sure to listen (for pain is something that we humans pay really close attention to, especially when it is our own...).
So next time you experience rejection and are pained and shamed by it, try and take a step back and put some faith into the new path that all of a sudden has opened up instead. It is your path, after all! Start exploring it!
3. No excuses
It usually takes time before we take risks. And rightfully so: before we take a (serious) leap, it is important to fully understand what we are risking. To examine who, how, and what will be affected by our taking a risk is necessary in order to best calculate whether this risk is even worth taking. This valuable preparation time means we are actually serious about our endeavor and want it to succeed. And when done thoroughly it will allow us a better take off for when we actually jump.
Then there is what I like to call the justification time during which we come up with one excuse after the other in an attempt to rationalize why we are not able to take the risk we have been contemplating. These excuses always start with the following three words
I am not...
I am not strong /smart/ original /attractive/rich (fill in the blank) enough.
When we are scared to take risks, there are endless ways we can try and convince ourselves of all the reasons that make it impossible to pursue our endeavor.
The good thing is that there is always that inner voice. The one that bugs and bugs you, for as long as it takes for you to face the truth: your excuses are plain excuses and you either continue to nourish them or you destroy them. One by one. Until there are none left.
Until the inner voice has won. And then you prepare for real, muster up all the courage and... jump.
4. Be You
A common excuse for not having yet dared is because "someone else has done x/y/z (fill in your heart's desire here) already".
Fact is: yes: someone else has very, very likely already done (and successfully accomplished/ received awards for/ made millions doing) what you would like to do.
So here are your options: not doing what you feel passionate about at all (and regretting it forever) or just doing it your way.
You are unique, so whatever you create will have your distinctive signature on it; independent from anything that has ever existed before.
And if you continuously remember to tap into this creatively unique well that is filled with your authenticity and originality, courage, and resilience, there are no limits to what you can achieve.
5. Your only shot
This is it. This is your opportunity. Right here and right now. You have been given this one and only precious life which will end at some point (amidst our daily to-dos, we like to forget this rather consequential certainty), so really: carpe diem and seize the present. stop and smell the flowers, gather the rosebuds and strike the iron while it's hot... you get my point: take. the.chance. Now.
And then be brave and share the story of how you dared with others for THIS is how we replace judgment with empathy and (seeming) failure with (true) success.
❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎