You always hear about the people who took a chance that paid off. You always hear the try, try again stories—those case studies of overcoming what seems to be an insurmountable challenge.
You know how the story goes: so-and-so encountered failure a dozen times, but on the thirteenth attempt, they made it!
Then so-and-so says, “Thanks, everyone. I’m so glad I kept going. Victory was never guaranteed, but look at me now.”
Sometimes, though, you head into a situation knowing that there’s a high likelihood of failure. I’m not talking about the possibility of failure, I’m talking about odds that would make a free-wheeling Las Vegas roulette player back away from the table and head straight for the buffet.
And the costs of failure aren’t insignificant, either. You know that if you fail in this attempt, you won’t just be able to “move on.” It will be very, very hard.
Tough odds, real costs. Yet you go anyway.
All along the way, you feel a sense of foreboding. You sense the anxiety and nothing can stop it. But you also sense a mission of sorts, and that feels good.
What did the kamikaze pilots think about as they piloted to certain death? They were willing to die for a flag and a cause, the commitment that any soldier makes when he signs up. But they were so young—could they really understand the true cost?
Perhaps your odds aren’t quite as bad, nor are your costs as high, as those guys. Having some historical perspective helps.
Whatever the situation, it’s good to have a secondary reason for attempting an insurmountable challenge. The first reason is obvious, but since failure is so likely, it helps to dig deeper and find something else.
And what do you find? You find that you want to do everything you can. You want to be able to look back and say, “Well, that was very, very hard, but I saw it through and didn’t hide from the challenge.”
You want to prove to yourself that you’re not a failure even if you’ve failed.