Hey guys. It’s Dad.
I wanted to share a quote that I absolutely love and live by. It makes me think of you guys and your futures. “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” I want to encourage you, and model for you, and nurture in you, a willingness to take chances.
I know that it’s pretty obvious that sometimes taking chances is scary. In fact, it’s pretty much always scary, even for me. But amazing things happen when we take chances. Life-changing; world-changing things happen when we are brave enough to take chances. In fact, they only happen when we take chances.
Years ago I was a bartender in a night-club in the Bay Area. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent listening to people pour their hearts out about how disappointed they were with where they were in their lives, in their careers, and in their relationships. But I started noticing that most of their dreams, and even their spirits, were absolutely smothered in fear.
People seemed almost paralyzed by fear, unwilling, or unable to take the actions necessary to change the circumstances that they were so unhappy with. They’d ask me about relationships, careers and career changes, life adventures, dangerous activities, travel, and hobbies. It wasn’t long before I realized that my responses, my opinions, and my encouragement always seemed to take the exact same point of view. I could sum it up by simply saying…
“Take a chance and see what happens!”
My side of these conversations often sounded something like this:
“Imagine yourself on the top of a steep, steep mountain bike trail, or maybe a ski slope. It’s so steep that it looks impossible to get down without having a huge wipeout. You’re all geared up, clipped in, ready to go, but you’re completely freaked out about how badly this could turn out.
Now…how are you going to handle it? What are you going to do?
Well here are your choices:
A) You can go down very cautiously, with the brakes on, slowly inching your way down, laboring to making sure that you don’t fall.
B) You can release the brakes, choose the best path that you can see, commit…then let it rip!
The likely outcomes of these two strategies could not be more different from each other.
A) If you take the cautious and methodical approach there’s really only one probable outcome: You’re gonna make it down. You’ll have white knuckles, your heart will be beating like crazy, you’ll be gasping for air, then…ultimately… it’ll be over. But hey…you’ll be safe. When you’re done with this approach your life will be exactly the same as it was before; exactly as it was at the top of the mountain…but now you’re at the bottom.
So what changes if you risk it; if you take a chance and just send it?
Option B gives you two very, very different possible outcomes:
1) You go for it. You go bombing down the mountain, almost completely out of control. Then it happens. You knew, it wasn’t if you fell…but when…and how bad. You have an absolutely horrible wipe-out, bouncing off the ground like a rag-doll wishing that Red Bull really did give you wings. Your bike and gear are strewn all over the mountainside. Those of us from the GenX era gave this less than desirable outcome a loving nickname: “A Yard Sale!” Gloves are over here! A boot is over there! Goggles? Has anybody seen my goggles? As you continue your tumble, you let out an uncontrolled yell that’s usually accompanied by a trip to the emergency room for some stitches and an X-ray or two. Take it from me, these wipe-outs can, and usually do, have a massive impact on your life. Still, I wouldn’t trade ’em for the world. My friends, my family, and I still laugh about these ‘experiences’ today, commenting…”Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time!”
2) The other possible outcome is that you actually make it down in one piece! You lean over the edge and all you see is that the ground disappears below you, then reappears just before the bottom. The middle of the run isn’t even visible to you until you drop in; until you commit. So, you let off the brakes and let it roll! With acceleration unlike anything that you’ve ever felt you go flying down the mountain. You’re dodging rocks and trees, grunting and groaning as instincts of self-preservation take over, jumping over stumps and boulders like some sort of X-Games athlete. You see your life pass before your eyes about a million times. Then…right before the mountain flattens out at the bottom, you let out an uncontrolled howl that’s usually accompanied by the biggest grin you’ve ever had in your life.
Just like the cautious approach, you’ve got white knuckles and your heart is beating like crazy, and you’re at the bottom. But this time you did it. You took a massive chance, and you’ll never be the same for it!
You may never do it again…or you may catch your breath, laugh with your buddies, and climb right back to the summit to have another go! Either way, I can promise you one thing. Whether you wiped out or you made it…your life will never be the same. It will never be the same because you took the chance.
Keep taking chances. Don’t be afraid to fall or to fail. Failure is a function of success. Don’t think that you can’t do it. You can!
Think about this for a second. Noah built the ark. Do you think he was nervous? “Wait…God. You want me to do WHAT?” But the very finest engineers and craftsmen in the world built the Titanic, and we all know how that worked out. So I think, say, and live… “Go for it.”
Sometimes we succeed, and sometimes we learn. So think about what could happen if you succeed. Consider what could happen if you fail. Then think about how your spirit would fee if you didn’t even try.
So what’s on the other side of chance? It’s life; real, rich, life.
“Should I accept that job in Rhode Island?”
I don’t know. Would you be happier if you got the job?
“Should I climb Mt. Everest?”
I don’t know. Is that a dream of yours? If so, why’d you wait so long? Let’s pack!
“Should I ask that pretty girl to the dance?”
Yes! Definitely yes. I guarantee that most of your buddies will be afraid to.
I love you guys. I hope that you live your lives, rather than just survive them.
Take chances. I promise, I’ll be here to pick you up if you fall…
ok…when you fall.