“The only things I’ll ever regret are things I didn’t do.
In the end, that’s what we’ll mourn.
The paths we didn’t take.
The people we didn’t touch.”
~ Scott Spencer – American Author
Hey guys. You know that I’ve written about risk and regret. I’ve studied it. I’ve lived it from both sides of the fence. I’m almost hyper-aware of the importance of just going for it. There’s so much good to come from it, and almost always such little at risk.
But even with that conscious mindfulness, sometimes anxieties and fears still find a way to creep in. Like water seeping through the cracks in the hull of a ship, we need to be mindful that it’s there or we’ll end up spending our lives bailing water, simply trying to stay afloat. Before we know it, we’ll reach the end of this journey having missed every coastline, every sunrise, every sunset, and every mile and every smile in between.
Below is a story that was shared with me by a professor of mine. His intention was to instill in us an urgency to act. No hesitation. No doubt. Just go all in, in an effort to reach your goals and dreams.
Burning the boats ~ As the legend goes, Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés issued a frightening order to his soldiers as they attempted, yet again, to overthrow the Aztecs.
Cortez, a great warrior in his own right, had to make a decision which would ensure his success on the battlefield. He was about to send his army to fight a far superior and more powerful army on their home soil. He loaded his soldiers into boats, sailed to the Aztec empire, and unloaded soldiers and equipment. He then gave the order to sail the ships just off shore then to set them ablaze. He told his soldiers before the battle, ‘You see the boats going up in smoke? That means that we will never leave these shores alive…unless we win! We now have no choice – we win or we perish!’
In 1933, incoming US President Franklin D Roosevelt said, “…let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” Cortez converted retreat into advance, and you guys can too.
The point Professor Leube was making was that Cortez’s level of commitment is the same level of commitment that we should take when perusing our own dreams. But we don’t have to worry about dying in the process. Sure, we might fail. We might lose some money. We might lose a lot! When we’re older, we could even lose our homes or our business. But unlike the soldiers that ultimately defeated the Aztecs, we don’t have to literally face a win-or-die scenario. We’re often just too afraid to go all in. We’re afraid of getting it wrong. We’re afraid of failure.
You’ve Still Got a Mulligan ~ You may not know what a “Mulligan” is in golf, but really it’s a fancy name for a do-over. Basically, if you mess up your shot, the people you’re playing with might give you a second chance. Guys, we live in a nation that will always give you a second chance. If your business fails, if you don’t graduate, if you go broke, our country has systems built in to help you get back on your feet. But here’s the crazy part that most people never see. Hank Haney is a golf coach for the pros. I remember him teaching a celebrity how to improve his golf game when he shared this amazing statistic. It really shines a light on the importance that letting go of the fear and giving it your best shot.
Haney recorded the percentage of Tee shots that his clients hit that landed in the fairway (where you want to be). If they messed up their shots he gave them a “Mulligan.” They got to take another shot. The second shot might have been better or it could have been worse. Then they would play on. During their next round of golf, he told his clients in advance that they had an extra shot if they needed it. So if they messed up their shot, they got a do-over! They didn’t. They didn’t need it. The simple knowledge that they had a “safety net,” their do-over, changed their unconscious mind and they performed better; not just better…much better! Use your Mulligan, guys. Go all in! I’ll catch you if you fall.
I want you to look at your dreams with a complete lack of inhibition. In a way, I want you to look at your dreams with a complete lack of responsibility. Send it! What have you got to lose if you stumble and fall? What are you giving up if you don’t even give yourselves a chance to truly live?
Don’t miss the journey. Don’t miss a single sunrise or the sunset while you’re bailing water out of the hull. I promise you’ll see storms along the way, but man…the sun looks even brighter after that. Alexander Graham Bell said, “We often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” Push ’em open guys. Kick ’em open if you have to. At least see what your dreams might bring you.
Don’t mourn the things you didn’t do, the paths you didn’t take, and the people you didn’t touch. Let’s go! Let’s burn our boats.
I love you guys,