“What would you do if you knew you would succeed?”
Ever wonder who originally said this? Thanks to Quote Investigator, I discovered the original quote was from Robert H. Schuller, but the wording is different. “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” (If you want to read the whole Quote Investigator article, click here.)
That saying has always put my teeth on edge.
My new-found interest in this saying came about from an awesome yoga class. The teacher, named Jack Cuneo, took this saying and pointed out that it wasn’t very yogic. He said that all of the important growth we have in our lives comes from failure. Jack suggested we flip the phrase for a different, more yogic perspective. “What is worth doing even though you know you might fail?”
Jack continued, “What would you do if you accepted that failure is possible, or even inevitable?”
And finally, “What is worth doing no matter the outcome?”
What is worth doing no matter the outcome? Wow. This hit home way more than “What would you do if you knew you would succeed?”
My theory is, if you knew you would succeed, you might not pick something true to your heart. If you knew you would succeed, might you choose something a bit loftier? For example, if I knew I would succeed, I would create a foundation to fight homelessness. Or depression. Or I might run for office. Or cure cancer. All of these goals are things I care about, but are they me? Are they in my heart? If they were, wouldn’t that goal be in my life in some form today?
No. The answer to, “What is worth doing even though you might fail?” is closer to my heart. “What is worth doing no matter the outcome?” is something I am already thinking about but afraid of doing. And why am I afraid of doing it? Fear of failure. BUT, “What would you do if you accepted that failure is possible, or even inevitable?”…that gives me permission to TRY.
BUT, Yoda said!…
Yoda said, “No! Try not! Do. Or do not. There is no try.” This popular sage advice from Master Yoda is just one sentence of a lesson of many sentences he says to a young Skywalker. When taken out of context you miss his point. If you watch the entire scene, there is a deeper meaning.
He starts by saying, “Always with you what cannot be done…You must unlearn what you have learned.”
And then Luke says, in his whiny voice, “Alright. I’ll give it a try.”
And THEN Yoga says, “NO! Try NOT! Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
Always with you what cannot be done. That is the lesson that needs to be unlearned. When we think it cannot be done, we believe we will not succeed. HOWEVER, there is a difference between failure and what cannot be done.
How many times did the Wright Brothers fail before they flew?
How many failed inventions did Edison have compared to those that succeeded.
How many auditions did Meryl Streep go to before she was offered the part in “The Deer Hunter?”
Thing is, we only hear about the successes. We don’t hear about the failures leading up to the success. We don’t hear how many times they tried on the way to success.
Knowing that there will be failure on the way to success opens up the door. There is less fear of the unknown. It gives you permission to try.
So, ask yourself these questions, and see if anything comes up for you.
What is worth doing even though you know you might fail?
What would you do if you accepted that failure is possible, or even inevitable?
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