Why We're So Afraid To Take Chances

I met a friend of mine today in the lower level of the Plaza Hotel near Central Park in Manhattan.  It's a beautiful place.  The Plaza Hotel has a food court that feels like something out of the great European food courts in Germany and Paris.  It made me miss Europe. 

This friend of mine is a very successful owner of his own linguistics company as well as a branding specialist for celebrity endorsed beauty products.  I told him how much fun and exhilarating my coaching company has been.   I'm very fortunate in that I have clients all over the world and every day I'm engaging in the most amazing discussions with fearless, driven people.  It inspires me to work harder and have more fun at the work I'm doing.

At the end of the conversation, I asked my friend why so many of us live out the attached quote by Albert Einstein.  My friend rubbed his beard and said, "We don't like the unknown, but diving into the unknown is when we've have our greatest success. It's odd, huh?" 

He's right.  We all know he's right. So if he's right, why don't we all take more chances in our careers?

Well, first of all, it's fucking scary.  Taking a chance by diving into the unknown means we have to let go of the reigns and trust all is working out for you.  And most of us who run our own companies aren't very good at doing that.  We're Type A for a reason.

I've been spending much of my life analyzing how we find success.  I mean, what is success? What is having money and affluence and what is true wealth?  The answer, of course, is feeling free. Feeling free is the number one feeling most people I work with say they want.   No, money does not buy freedom or happiness, but it sure does help and it sure is nice. 

One thing I've learned is most people who have great success reach a point in their lives where they have to make a choice: do I shit or get off of the pot?  Sorry for the crude metaphor, but it's true, isn't it?  

There will many points in your career where you will find yourself at a crossroads.   You'll be presented with a possible path and you'll either go down it, or you won't. 

And it's at that exact moment we falter. Every single time.

It's like that moment in all great movies.  There's the opening where we meet all the characters, and we meet the hero/heroine.   Something happens to our lead and as Joseph Campbell once noted the hero/heroine is 'called to an adventure' for which they refuse to go.  They debate and argue about why it's bad idea (or a good one), and we, the audience, sit back and judge and say "Get on with it already! You're life is waiting!"

Why is it so easy for us to tell others what they should do, yet we don't take our own advice?

There is no worse place for any businessperson in any business to be at then in the state of emotional indecisiveness.  It's paralyzing.   When we keep asking others what we should do and don't listen to our own gut, then we're lost.  We've given up the sole power we were born to realize which is having the life we want on our terms.  We don't live by design, but by default.  It's the worse kind of living I know of.  

In that vein, this quote from Goethe is one of my favorites.  I used to have it on my wall of my bedroom for years but only recently got what he was saying.  It's about feeling the feeling of decision before taking action.  That's all that matters.  Any other way of functioning is a waste of time.  Taking action for action is dumb and it's why so many of us don't get what we want sooner.  Why more business schools don't discuss emotion versus endless business tactics is truly beyond me.

We're terrified of taking chances because we're not clear on what we want and we aren't willing to admit we unconsciously feel unable to do the work, or more paralyzingly, we don't feel we deserve the success we want.  But (and this is always the rub) because those limited beliefs are unconscious we aren't even aware of how much they are consciously driving our bodies and lives.  

We are a culture that loves to talk about what we don't want, but few of us are adept at talking about what we DO want.  It's the missing component when it comes to crafting our careers.  Being very clear on what we want, deciding and believing we are going to have it, and then deeply committing to spending our days conjuring the feelings of what we want and then taking action only AFTER we've conjured those feelings is the only work we need focus on. 

All the rest is a big, fat waste of our fucking time. 

Business people don't like it when I tell them 'It's not about some big action plan to increase revenue or sell that book or close that deal.  It's about aligning with the feeling of knowing you are going to increase revenue or sell that book or close that deal before you take action.  Because otherwise you're just trying too hard and it's a waste of everyone's time AND no one will want to help you because they'll feel your lack of genuine inspiration."

Pisses people off when I say that, but I'm right.  More right then I like to admit at times. 

Anyone who is a true success knows the sweet spot we're all looking for is knowing what we want is coming and also being okay sitting in the feelings of discomfort that comes when we jump into the unknown. 

It's not complicated, this notion of jumping into the unknown and taking changes, but we're a complicated species so there's the matter of unconscious beliefs and irrational fears that hold us back.  It's why individual coaching (which I specialize in) works wonders for those who are courageous and willing to look at what is truly driving them and what is truly holding them back.

We've all heard the saying that we're born to have all we desire.  But how many of us actually believe that?  How many of us secretly imagine our secret lives and yet live our lives watching it unfold for others? Why do we live lives of quiet desperation?

As someone who has come from tremendous struggle and it witness to miracles everyday, I know we are meant to have our dreams realized, but few of us live a life where our dreams are realized because we don't feel it's possible.

Live in the feeling of possibility for just a little while and see what happens. You may justbelieve what Willy Wonka told us years ago. The guy was onto something. 



Michael C. BryanComment