Monday, November 23, 2009
What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
I saw this question on another blog quite a while ago, and I have to say that at the time, it annoyed the heck out of me. I'd play the freakin' lottery. I'd audition for So You Think You Can Dance. I'd do tons of things that are completely out of my reach and that would be terrible, stupid, guaranteed-waste-of-time-and-money gambles based on the truths of the real world. The question, then, teaches me nothing.
And even if I respond in a broader, less sarcastic manner to the question -- clearly it is intended to be about challenging your sense of what you can accomplish and following your dreams -- what about the time element? I will surely make different decisions if success will be immediate... or within the next five years... or sometime just before I die. Gosh, if I knew I could not fail, I'd write a book and try to get it published. How long does that usually take, again? How many people quit their jobs or move to NYC to follow their creative dreams, only to run out of money before they meet with sufficient success?
And so the question annoyed me. It's supposed to be inspirational, but it just struck me as naive, and somewhat critical of those of us who are trying to make informed, balanced choices about what we want in conjunction with what will pay the bills. Yeah, if I knew I could not fail I'd do lots of daring things, but MY ODDS ARE LOW and I HAVE A FAMILY so I can't bloody well just risk it all.
Furthermore, I felt that I was doing everything I would want to do, and I was failing plenty, thankyouverymuch. If I knew I could not fail, I would apply for a job with [redacted]... and the day I read this question was also the day I found out that I wasn't even considered for the job at [redacted], even though I think I am exceptionally well-qualified for the position by every measurable standard, and I would have been incredibly good at the job. I did try. I did get very creative and proactive about my approach, championing myself far more than I am usually comfortable doing, and getting advice from friends and networking connections to make sure I was doing everything right. I tried like failure was not an option. And I got exactly the same results as if I hadn't tried at all.
But I'm not the only one who sometimes feels like she's just spinning her wheels. We're all in this together, right? Time to woman-up.
And I think I've found one more thing to try for. Something that really does fall into an aspirational-yet-potentially-achievable category that is just perfect for a "try like you could not fail" attitude. Because it's not just about trying a single thing once and that was your one shot. It's a process.
Let's see if I can try something new.