what would you do if you knew you could not fail?

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Have you ever thought about what you would do if you knew you could not fail?

note: this is NOT the same question as ‘What would you do if money was not a issue?

Both involve risk – risk of failure, risk of not making or having enough money.

Both involve fear – fear of doing it wrong, fear of wasting time, fear of failing, fear of not making money, fear of not having money, fear of being poor and becoming homeless and dying alone.

(Admittedly a bit dramatic with that last one, but some people naturally follow their fear-thought-path to that end)

But the second implies that the way you spend your time is dependent on whether or not you have enough money to pay the bills.

This is a totally valid question to ask yourself – but let’s move to the next logical step. Let’s assume you’ve got your to-do list out in front of you. This to-do list you keep is long, detailed and overly-ambitious …. OK, MY to-do list is all these things!

Take a look at your to-do list, each item one-by-one and justify to yourself WHY you haven’t done it yet.

…..  (I’ll wait) ….

So …. How many of these reasons are LEGIT, and how many are excuses or talking yourself out of something. (I am EXCELLENT at talking myself into or out of things)….

I believe you when you tell me that you just haven’t had time to set up your company’s email list. I believe you when you tell me you haven’t had the budget to get a website redesign yet. Both of those things involve investment that you may not have.

… But any of the To-Dos that are more like ‘Email {huge internet celebrity} about collaboration‘ or ‘Write book proposal‘ ….

I have BOTH of those on my to-do list …. and I am well aware that I keep putting those off because I am worried about the outcome.  I fully admit to being afraid of failure.

I keep putting these off for fine-but-not-good-enough reasons – I tell myself 2 more weeks of interacting on Twitter will better prep huge-internet-celebrity for my email. I tell myself I need to sit down and completely re-tool my book idea before I write the proposal.

But recognizing that fear of failure is actually what is holding us back? That is the first step – which is exactly why you need to take an hour or so and really look hard at the list of projects you want to accomplish, and examine the REAL reasons you are not doing them.

Notice that I KNOW that I’m being ridiculous. I KNOW that 2 more weeks of Twitter interaction is nothing, really. I KNOW that nothing will never happen if I don’t move forward. I KNOW that trying and failing is far more productive than sitting on my hands and talking myself out of action.

I KNOW this about myself …. But I still put it off…

For me personally, I need to give myself a deadline. Preferably a public one. This is why I always announce my next ebook or other L&R project WELL before the launch date – to FORCE myself to get past that fear of failure, finish it and not let you all down.

Maybe for you a system of rewards work – buy yourself an iPad as soon as you have completed and sent off your book proposal.

Or maybe you really need some kind of negative reinforcement – for every week you put off emailing that potential collaborator, take over one of the household chores your husband normally does.

The point is …. Fear of failure is REAL. …. It is prevalent. …. and it is SILLY.

You can move past it.

So, what about you?

What would you do if you knew you could not fail? And when are you going to just DO it anyway and take a risk to move onward and upward?

This is a session pulled directly from the first week of Onward and Upward, my online workshop that begins October 3. You can check out further details about the workshop here or click here to register.

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  • Lily September 26, 2011 at 5:27 am edit

    The answer to both of those questions is act on Broadway. It isn’t and wasn’t fear of failure that kept me from trying, I know the risks involved in attempting to “make it” on Broadway, it was the starving part of “starving actress” that held me back.

    This is a good article, I take exception to one statement “…it is silly.” You’ve already said it is real and it is prevalent, and while it may feel silly to you, to others it feels over-powering. Rather than silly maybe we could call it, potentially debilitating if we let it irrational thoughts grow. Let’s learn new ways of coping with our fear of failure, let’s reframe the thought patterns that grow that fear, than we can conquer it.

  • Amy September 26, 2011 at 7:16 am edit

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply!

    Maybe we’re just defining ‘silly’ differently … To me, silly is goofy, kind of funny (like being able to laugh at yourself funny) and silly is not exactly worth my time.
    I agree that fear of failure can be potentially debilitating, but I’d rather not give it the power of focusing on that. Instead, I think we can make OURSELVES more powerful if we recognize that we are BIGGER and stronger than the fear of failure – because it is silly.

    I hope that makes sense…


  • Han September 26, 2011 at 7:28 am edit

    It probably sounds really silly but it would be to be self employed – I do like my day job don’t get me rock but I love the idea of being my own boss – My Mum does it, My Uncle does it, My Aunt does it part time (She has a part time admin job to make up her income at the moment), both my Grandad’s did it before they “retired”. But what can I do that would sell is always the question I ask. I can bake cakes but I know my friends do better, I can sew but again skirts and quilts are about all I can do lol. I love the idea of being able to design websites – but again there are people out there who do better. So I’m here doing my day job.

  • Amy September 26, 2011 at 7:37 am edit

    Han : I LOVE that you have so many family members setting the example for you of what you would love to do – especially since that means they’re less likely to dismiss your goals…

    If you REALLY want to be self-employed …. there is a lot you can do to test the waters…. But of course (as you know) it’s work. Start small, baby steps – but just START.

    For ideas of how to build a business based on what you know – read Gary Vaynerchuk’s book ‘Crush It!’ … It’s not comprehensive, but it’s a good place to start.

    good luck!

  • Han September 28, 2011 at 2:05 am edit

    Hey :) Thank you for your reply :) Will add the book to my Amazon list – I have way too many books in my TBR pile lol.

  • Nancy September 26, 2011 at 11:08 am edit

    Thanks Amy for the inspiring post. I would also say to Han that their life is filled with qualified mentors who could help them work through the process of answering those questions. What am I good at? What skills do I have that are marketable? Where do I begin? What great resources to have right in your own family circle!

    My issue is that I project out too far. I have big dreams and when I see the possibilities for where an idea can go, I start to realize that I don’t have either the resources or the expertise to take it that far and I have a hard time figuring out how to start small and just enjoy the ride and see where it goes.


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