All too often we can find ourselves ruled by fear, both subtle and profound. Faced with going out on a limb, being vulnerable, trying something entirely new, it’s easy for The Resistance to take over, for the lizard brain to kick in, for us to tell ourselves the time isn’t right or that we aren’t quite ready.
For many us, it’s not the least bit difficult to imagine the embarrassment, pain or all manner of calamities that might result from exposing our ideas to the world, starting our own new business, choosing to be the one to stand up to injustice, aggressively pushing our organizations to innovate or embarking on just about any endeavor that is fraught with risk.
I’m reminded of what Mark Twain supposedly said: “there has been much tragedy in my life, some of which actually happened.”
It turns out we humans seem to be rather good at naming and feeling the risk of doing something, but maybe not so good at seeing the reward. We ask ourselves the “what if we do?” question and then frequently talk ourselves into stopping, waiting or hoping someone else will act instead.
Yet when it comes to pondering the work that matters perhaps a better question would be “what if we don’t?”
If we don’t innovate, our organization or business might not only stagnate, it might cease to exist entirely.
If we don’t speak up against hate, we enable injustice to spread unchallenged.
If we don’t vote, we get leaders that are at best clueless; at worst dangerous.
If we don’t act to unleash our potential, our desire, our creativity we, to paraphrase Thoreau, can easily fall into the trap of living lives of quiet desperation and go to our graves with the song still in us.
Too often we think the risk is in acting, when it is precisely the opposite.
Too often we believe we have more time, when in fact it’s much later than we think.
Too often we find ourselves asking the wrong question entirely.