"That was brave" versus "I wonder if…"

What is it like to step up to the plate, hoping you get to be the hero and hit the home run that wins the game while fearing you will swing and miss, thereby bringing shame not only upon yourself, but upon your family, your fans and your whole team?

What is it like to tell someone you’ve fallen for them without knowing where they stand or how they truly feel about you?

What is it like to stand up in front of a crowd of strangers and open your lips to deliver a song or a speech you’ve been practicing and perfecting for months on end?

These scenarios are just a few examples of what it’s like to pit vulnerability and fear against passion, drive and commitment. If you don’t try at all, you won’t fail, but you won’t succeed either. If you never fall for anyone, you’ll never get hurt, but you’ll also never know true love. If you never stand up in front of a crowd of strangers, you’ll never face the ridicule of people who don’t enjoy your material, but you’ll also never know the satisfaction of truly connecting with your audience.

“The safest risk is the one not taken” goes a popular motto in the field of Quality Assurance. But without risk, there is no reward. A quest to ensure safety is hardly a quest because the only way to stay safe is to take no action at all. This dichotomy is captured in Finding Nemo:

Marlin: I promised I’d never let anything happen to him. Dory: Hmm. That’s a funny thing to promise. Marlin: What? Dory: Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.

On a personal note, fear has dominated much of my teenage years and I suspect fear was what really ended my gymnastics career, not the knee injury – one brought about the other. As I grow older I am getting better at following the mantra, “I’d rather say ‘WOW, that was brave’ than ‘I wonder if…’ “. At times it can be excruciating to act upon my curiosity and drive instead of obliging my fear. But often the first step is the hardest, and the satisfaction of actually taking action is much more rewarding than the satisfaction I’d get if I played it safe and never tried.

Maybe I won’t be remembered as being the smartest or greatest, and I will probably always be a little cautious and analytical, but I would also like to be remembered as being brave.

Bold takes initiative.

–  Green-Eyed Guide

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