Not Succeeding is Not Disaster

Here is a skill: knowing when the worst outcome from a failed attempt is simply a return to the status quo versus when a failed attempt will result in a major loss.

You’d be surprised how often people do not make that assessment correctly. You’ve probably gotten it wrong many times; I know I have.

If you try a high jump to touch a high ceiling, you might make it or you might not. But you end up back on the ground either way. If you try to jump over a ravine and you don’t make it, you don’t end up safely back on your original side – you end up in a ditch.

That’s an obvious example, but plenty more are less obvious. This is a valuable skill because, by default, we all assume that “disaster” is the natural state of failure. We don’t even attempt things that wouldn’t have any negative consequences for failing because all we can picture is being in a ditch. This makes us avoid low-risk opportunities when we should be embracing as many of those as we can.

The next time you decide not to try something because you might fail, stop yourself. Ask yourself what failure looks like in this case. If it’s your body in a ditch, then sure – don’t do it. But if it’s just you back where you started – jump!

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