Most people don’t even have the chance to fail like we can fail

November 12, 2013 — 4 Comments
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riskI was recently emailing back and forth to some very good college friends.  We were in business classes together and we keep in touch to share business and career advice.  Last week, I was asking them to take a look at changes I had made to my Linkedin profile.

My friend Mike asked me what I meant by this section:

“I started Hoptom Consulting in 2006. “Hoptom” has its roots in a 2005 trip to Ethiopia in which I volunteered at an AIDS orphanage. The trip radically changed my outlook on risk and purpose in life.”

He mentioned I share my answer on the site.  Here is what I wrote my two friends:

On my trip to Ethiopia, I realized the real risk in life was not taking any risks.  I say this as a single person, but I thought at the time, and am glad I did, that not taking any risks would be my real loss.  Some of the poorest over there would have given me their baby on the spot to take back to America.  They would do anything just to be here.  I just felt as long as I have my base needs covered, why not go for it? That is just me and my lesson.  Not everyone comes away with that. That is why I decided to go into business for myself.  Not because everyone has to go into business, but I realized I wanted to try and wasn’t doing it, because of fear of looking stupid, failing, or not being “guaranteed” to have what others have as normal life….nice car, big house, etc.

I guess I have always had a sense of adventure in me.  For most of my life I was too afraid to pursue those desires in me, and it helped me see the truth about my situation and to be more generous with myself and others.  So, that is my situation, and no one is the same, but I would say in order to generalize, it helped me walk down the path I intuitively knew I had to be on, which was linked to not having regrets rooted in fear.  

I have a sense that someone out there needed to read that.  I hope so.

You know what?  Even though my business didn’t work out like I thought, I felt it was a success.  Why?

It was a success, because I tried.

Truthfully, most people don’t try, but they should!  If you live in the first world, you should be excited for the opportunity to fail!

Most people don’t even have the chance to fail like we can fail. 

Think about that.

How can we have all that we have and say to ourselves, “I am too afraid to run a half marathon, to try an improv class, to commit, to learn an instrument, to move, to travel overseas, to make new friends, to apply for that job, to go back to school?  What if I look dumb?  What if I lose money?  What if I am not good enough?  What if I fail?” These are all questions I have asked myself.  You have too, in various forms, if you are honest.

So, I am glad my friend Mike asked me that question.

Sure, we have to be responsible and how you balance responsibility with risk is up to you and only you.  But I do know one thing.  There are things in your life you know you need to do deep down to be right with yourself, the world, and even God, but you aren’t taking any steps. I say take the first step.

In the end, it isn’t about feeling guilty for what we have, it is about being courageous and generous with what we do have.  

Just trying is success.

This is living life upside down.

4 responses to Most people don’t even have the chance to fail like we can fail

  1. You should write a memoir–or at least a longer essay about that trip and how it changed you. I’d like to read that story.

  2. Great article Bowman. I hate to say it but I have so many moments when I catch my head trying to talk me out of something… and probably a lot that I don’t catch. I need to change that. Thanks for writing this. :)

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