This morning I was reading Money magazine (my, how surprised I would've been to know, a few years ago, that a sentence such as that might escape my lips), and there was an intriguing article that I have yet to finish about Eco Seagate -- a punishing team-building exercise in New Zealand that Seagate employees actually apply to be a part of.
CEO Bill Watkins came up with this crazy thing a few years ago and it basically involves 17 hours a day of the harshest physical activity imaginable. Employees train for months in advance to prepare. Watkins feels that people must be taken out of comfortable situations and made to experience fear in order to open their minds and change.
One thing he is quoted as saying struck a chord with me. It was something to the effect of: "If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?"
I've had essentially the same thing asked of me (by others and myself) in different ways. Most often it comes in the form of: "If you could do anything, what would you do?" Which is sort of like a very la-dee-dah question. Like, oh sure, I would write a book and open my own winery and travel to Italy and learn Russian and the violin and move to Washington state and have lots of doggies and children and raise them to be peaceful and loving and caring and strong. It's a dream-world question and a dream-world answer with no real meaning behind it.
But to ask what you would do if you knew you could not fail is somehow different. It implies that you are being held back from doing what you really want to do by fear. Icy, blue, paralyzing fear of failure. You already know in your soul what is holding you back -- fear, what else?! -- but to be able to concretely say: This is why I have not quit my job and tried to accomplish my dream, my fear that I will fail. I will fail and lose all of my money and then not only will I not have accomplished my dream, I will be broke, and my spouse will also not love me any more because I will have dragged his dream through the dirt, too, and then I will be alone and will probably console myself with copious amounts of red wine and chocolate and then my thighs will reach dimensions previously unknown.
To be able to say that, and know that fear: that is enlightening.
Fear, fear. Even thinking about trying to face that fear makes my stomach rumble.
It would be neat to be able to jump this hurdle and say, I acknowledge fear of failure is what is preventing me from accomplishing my dream. But, as I am not an entirely untalented person, this fear is not completely grounded in reality. Therefore, I shall move forward and ignore the fear and persevere. It would be neat.