What if you could never fail?
When I was 14, I enrolled in a high school closest to me; what I mean by that is that it was literally across the road from where I lived. I didn’t even look at other options, because I knew it was a good school, I didn’t have to travel, and I already knew some of people going there.
During my first year, I spoke with a friend who had enrolled in a different school in a nearby (capital) city. She talked about it with such an enthusiasm that I became intrigued and wanted to learn more. That same evening, I told my parents I want to switch schools.
Looking back, switching high schools was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Instead of playing it safe, I decided to roll the dice; my new school was more demanding, further away, and I didn’t know anybody besides a single person.
By graduation, I’ve made countless new friends and dramatically expanded my social circles. Following the switch, my grades took a short-term dive as the new school had higher standards and I needed to put in more effort to reach the same level of success I had in my previous school.
It was harder and more stressful, but it allowed me to score better on my finals, allowing me to get easily accepted into most colleges.
But since I’ve learned I have more possibilities than most people think I do, I opted for one of the hardest pathways; I decided to enroll in the Academy of Fine Arts which accepted only 8 people every year. They demanded a huge portfolio and a series of daunting tests, but I wasn’t discouraged.
I spent nearly two years taking lessons, creating projects, improving my skills, and preparing my portfolio. People kept telling me I’m chasing a pipe dream, but that didn’t let me down. I was focused and more determined than ever.
Ultimately, I didn’t get in, but I wasn’t broken about it. After years of effort I put in, people couldn’t grasp that I reacted saying “Oh well” and moving on to the next project.
So what’s the moral of the story here?
The biggest fear associated with any risk is failure. The possibility of losing money, being humiliated, or making the wrong choice is enough to make us say “Uhm, sure, I will rather just stay where I am”.
What if you could always take risks, but never fail?
Imagine that, all of those things you fear doing, suddenly didn’t have a downside. Imagine that, every time you wanted to go for something — a better job, new relationship, or a business idea — you would never feel pressured.
You could just do what you want to. And, if you take another look at my story, you will see that it is exactly what I did.
Initially, my parents were in shock when I told them I’m switching school and tried to discourage me, but I was firm in my beliefs; my problem was I didn’t consider all options before choosing the first, as I had a very narrow point of view.
Since then, I’ve always considered, to most people, unusual choices and opted for unorthodox solutions. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, but if I had to go back, I wouldn’t do anything differently; despite not always winning, I never fail.
Academy is a great example of this. Arthur Ashe said that “success is a journey, not a destination”. Everybody else looked at my goal in black or white; if I get accepted, Iam awesome, but if I get rejected, I am a loser and “they knew I couldn’t do it”.
However, after several years of “failing”, I had much to show for my effort.
Superior drawing skills. Hundreds of project in a portfolio. Freelance work for huge companies. International fans. Better discipline. Fearless focus.
When you look at it like that, its’ fucking amazing. So what if I didn’t get in? I can always try next year. And that was the plan, at first. But during my first year of college, I realized how I can be freer and achieve better results without the Academy.
To this day feel damn lucky I was rejected from the Academy in the first place.
When my unusual projects and visions succeed, it’s great. People cheer and carry me on my victory lap, thinking I’m a genius. But even when they don’t turn out to be particularly fruitful, I still learn a ton of useful stuff along the way that makes the process worth it.
I spent countless hours designing this website, but what web development I do know, I learned from a startup idea that I shut down before it even officially launched. Failure? Not even close. I just realized that I could do better focusing on something else, and that’s exactly what I did.
People like to play it safe. Risk does offer a much higher reward, but it also has the ability to provide greater loss. However, if you take fulfillment in the working process, you’ll never get a chance to fail.
Things don’t always work out — face it. Be smart and cut your losses when the time comes, but don’t sulk or consider yourself a failure. The only way you can fail is you quit and give up.
You can’t avoid risks. You take risks every day.
Every time you cross the street, you’re taking a risk of getting hit. Does that mean you’re going to stop crossing roads? Not likely. So why should you stop taking risks when it comes to improving your life?
Of course, I am not talking about gambling and taking blind risks with no planning or strategy. I am talking about smart risks, about aiming for improvement and advancing in life. Without doing this, you will always be stuck in the same place, never really satisfied, and the only person you will be able to blame is yourself.
You can play it safe and hate yourself for it. Stay safe and incomplete. You can also take a risk, and win even if you fail. It all depends on your perception. Risk everything, but risk smartly. Risk everything, but know when to stop.
Most importantly… risk everything.