What would you risk doing if you knew you couldn’t fail? It sounds like the kind of question you might get asked at a leadership training retreat. It sounds deep and inspirational.
Except it’s not.
It’s really an ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ kind of question. It’s pure nonsense. If we knew we couldn’t fail, it wouldn’t be a risk. It’s only risk, if failure is a possibility. Perhaps the better question is; what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
Unfortunately this question is no better.
We all desire to achieve. It’s in our DNA. And yet, there is something in the core of human nature that simply doesn’t value what comes too easily. It’s as though, deep down, we believe if it comes easily and without risk, it can’t be worth striving for. It seems there is an innate drive in human nature to seek out and live up to challenges. Do we need the uncertainty of success and the difficulty of the struggle to make us value the accomplishment? Can it be that success without striving isn’t achievement? Deep down, each of us has a passion that drives us to risk failing in order to achieve.
The word passion comes from the Latin word ‘passio’. Its original meaning is “to suffer”. This is why Christians referred to Jesus’ death on the cross as the “Passion of Christ”. Passion and suffering are linked. When we have a passion for something we will do what ever it takes to achieve it, even if we suffer in the process. This isn’t suffering in a sadomasochistic sense. The link between passion and suffering is more along the lines of tempering a sword.
To temper a sword you subject it to intense heat, followed by cooling. In between heating and cooling, the steel is beaten and folded and beaten again. You repeat this cycle over and over. This repetition transforms the steel into something that is strong, flexible and able to hold a sharp edge. It’s not an easy process. But, it yields good results.
Striving to achieve our passion can be much like forging a sword. Pursuing a passion can mean facing struggle, suffering and failure over and over. This process is not an easy one. However, it does prepare us for achievement. It forges strength, endurance and character. It sharpens and hones us.
So it would seem that the REAL question, the truly deep, inspirational question is; “What would you risk doing even though you KNOW you could fail?” What would you risk doing even though you WILL suffer to achieve it? What passion calls you to step out on that ledge beyond your comfort zone, beyond the safety of the familiar, beyond what you have mastered, beyond what you can control?
What ever that passion is, it will bring you to the ledge of risk. It is on this ledge that you will encounter your greatest opportunity and embark on adventure beyond your wildest dreams. However, achieving this, will mean leaving the ledge and jumping into the uncertain and unknown. It will mean risking suffering and failure. Be assured, it is WORTH it! Welcome to the Leap of Faith!
© Tamella White 2019
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