What is the cost of failing? I don’t know… It seems big, right? When I think of failing, I think of this homeless guy I see near the metro station. It scares me. There’s a good part of decisions I didn’t take in my life because of that feeling. I think it’s mostly because of education. I’ve been raised to live in a world with some kind of boundaries that we are taught not to cross. If we cross them, we get the image of the homeless guy. Although these boundaries are not here to keep you safe, they are here to keep the system you live in safe from evolving. It’s just some kind of self-preservation mechanism. I don’t really understand why it is like this, some people must have a lot to lose. But that’s not your problem…
It would take a lot of failures to become homeless. Even if I had no job, no one and no money I know I could still find some kind of shitty job and it would actually be ok. I did it before. I worked for a little more than a year moving boxes in a hardware store. Honestly I kicked some ass at this job and it was not that bad. Actually if I didn’t have this job I would have missed a lot of opportunities. Perhaps it would have been better, perhaps worse, I don’t know. But I’m happy where I am.
The only thing that prevents me from taking a risk is the fear of losing my current status and for some reason find myself in an uncomfortable situation (and uncomfortable is the word… in most case the worst situation would just be “uncomfortable”). Here’s how I think about risks before I take one :
- What is the worst case scenario?
- What would I lose?
- How could I come back to where I was before?
- What would I learn in the process?
(full disclosure: as far as I can remember in my adult life, I had this idea of what would be the worst case scenario when I made an important decision. It’s not new. But I watched an interview with TIm Ferriss recently and he had formalized these questions – I think he only had three though…)
This is what went through my head when I decided to move from France to Canada, when I quit my job or when I chose to invest a whole year in my yoga teacher training while starting to work for myself. Every time I was scared, but when I thought about it, the worst case scenario was still ok.
Right now I’m trying to reduce my client work to focus on apps I design myself. I still do some client work though and it’s easy to keep doing it and forget about my personal projects. Because my personal projects are risky, they might not work. What would be the worst case scenario actually? I would lose a couple of months of income. This is a pain but it’s not that bad. If it really doesn’t work I can stil work on an other product or do more client work. And actually I’m always more efficient when I do something for a second time, knowing what are the traps I must not fell into.
I don’t know about you but I have no interest in living a normal balanced life. I don’t want to have a boring job and go to the mall on Saturday to buy stuff I don’t need. I don’t want to watch CSI Las Vegas because my brain is too tired to enjoy a better activity. I don’t want to go on vacation in these big concrete resorts somewhere in the Bahamas and get smashed to forget about how stressful my life will be when I’ll go back to work.
What is the worst case scenario of running a normal life? Well, you might just have nothing interesting to tell your grand-kids. It sucks.
On the other hand, the other worst case scenarios (or scenarii) might just make you a little more exceptional and bring you opportunities you would never had otherwise.
When I think about it even seems safer and more clever than the normal life, doesn’t it?