Greatness appeals to the future. If I can be firm enough to-day to do right, and scorn eyes, I must have done so much right before as to defend me now. Be it how it will, do right now. Always scorn appearances, and you always may. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Trusting intuition and making decisions based on it is the most important activity of the creative artist and entrepreneur. If you are facing (and fearing) a difficult life decision, ask yourself these three questions:
1) “What are the costs of inaction?” I find it can be helpful to fight fear with fear. Fears of acting are easily and immediately articulated by our “lizard brains” (thanks Seth) e.g. what if I fail? what if I look stupid? If you systematically and clearly list the main costs of inaction, they will generally overshadow your immediate fears.
2) “What kind of person do I want to be?” I’ve found this question to be extremely useful. I admire people who act bravely and decisively. I know the only way to join their ranks is to face decisions that scare me. By seeing my actions as a path to becoming something I admire, I am more likely to act and make the tough calls.
3) “In the event of failure, could I generate an alternative positive outcome?” Imagine yourself failing to an extreme. What could you learn or do in that situation to make it a positive experience? We are generally so committed to the results we seek at the outset of a task or project that we forget about all the incredible value and experience that comes from engaging the world proactively, learning, and improving our circumstances as we go along.
(Author: Dan Andrews)
On Tuesday I quit my job. As of late July, I’ll be joining a start-up while continuing to pursue my passion projects. While I’m thrilled for the opportunity, I’m also terrified to leave my cushy corporate gig to re-enter the startup world. It’s scary as hell! Yet when thinking it through, I really needed to take into consideration the cost of inaction. What if I passed on the new gig and stayed exactly where I was?
First: I need to be challenged constantly. Not taking this opportunity would keep me less challenged and I’d remain in my comfort zone. I wouldn’t grow much there.
Secondly, new media is always changing and right now everything is going to mobile. I need to stay on top of the latest technologies and joining this organization will give me an edge above the rest.
Thirdly, why not? I distinctly remember telling a mentor of mine over lunch that I’d kill to work for a young, cool, cutting-edge startup. That conversation was six months ago. Why wait? I can’t let fear get in the way of professional growth and self-betterment.
“What kind of person do I want to be?”
It’s hard to trust one’s instinct. There are voices everywhere influencing the decisions we make, from which job to take to which dish towels to buy. There’s never a right answer because the true answer ultimately comes from within. I’d like to be a decisive, well-informed person who independently makes decisions and acts on them. I’d like to be a facilitator for the strengths and talents of others and work deftly with purpose and passion.
“In the event of failure, could I generate an alternative positive outcome?”
There’s one situation in particular where I failed hard. Oh man, I fell flat on my face. It felt like a disaster and was totally devastating to my ego.
I was hesitant to begin the project in the first place because I was petrified of judgement and rejection. Which is, ironically enough, exactly what happened in the end. I felt blithely dismissed, rejected, with of that hard work seemingly going nowhere. I tried so many angles and totally bombed, experiencing absolute and total rejection. I wanted to sleep for like a month. I was done. My dream was flattened.
Here’s what I learned from that experience: I should have kept going. There’s absolutely no reason why anyone should be granted the power to snuff out a dream. I wasn’t accepted here. Oh well, I suck at life! Time to find something else to do. As individuals, we need to find a way to circumvent the acceptance of rejection. Months later, I picked myself up and have kept going by finding a different approach. And I’ll keep going, until it happens.
The worst part is allowing ourselves to accept failure. We can generate a positive outcome by considering failure to be an opportunity for re-invention. It’s a time to go deep within ourselves and devise an alternative approach. When there’s a will, there’s always a way.