In the past few weeks, this is the story I have shared with all the locals I met in Peru in response to their question, “What was your plan or ‘secret trick’ to avoid failure in making a major leap in your life?”
“Please, God, help me get through this!”
“Please, give me the strength to stay above the water and swim back to shore.”
The waves were coming in over my head, the current of the water kept pulling me further out to sea. I tried not to panic, for I knew it would make it worse and easier to go under the water.
My Italian friends in Trapani, Sicily had warned me earlier that morning about the condition of the ocean. “ Fai attenzione, la corrente del mare e pericoloso oggi.” (Be careful, the current of the sea is dangerous today). Once I got to beach, the waves were so amazing. All I thought about was going in the water and hit those waves!
I went in a little too far and a current under the water dragged me in. It was like being flushed in the sea. I struggled so hard to keep myself above water that I felt myself getting tired and swallowing water every time a wave came in.
All of a sudden, I saw a motorboat beside me. Someone’s hand extended out reaching for me. I reached out my hand. He grabbed it and pulled me inside the boat. I was trembling, coughing and saw blurry all around me. I heard a man’s voice talking to me but, I couldn’t make out what he was saying.
All I wanted to do was sleep and NEVER go back in the ocean, EVER AGAIN!!
The next afternoon, my Italian friends were trying so hard to get me to go back in the ocean. “If you don’t go back now, you will live with that fear forever.”
I finally agreed to go back. I couldn’t stop thinking about the ordeal of the day before. As soon as I stepped my foot on the sand, I tensed up.
“Maybe I’ll try this tomorrow, I just can’t bring myself to go in the water,” I told my friends.
They did not give up on me, “I know it’s hard to forget, it was an awful experience. You are in control of avoiding what happened yesterday because now you know the feel of the danger of the sea. You were having so much fun before the current dragged you in. Don’t give up on ever having that much fun in the ocean.”
It was so true. I knew if the pressure of the water was gaining force and when to stop going in deeper. It was also true how much I love being in the ocean. I did not want to give that up. With that thought in mind, I went in. I stayed at waist-deep and swam for a while. I still had the images of the day before going through my mind but I focused on the beauty of the sea.
From that day on, I have always taken precautions that prior to that day I never gave a second thought. I will insist on wearing a life jacket when going sailing or canoeing. I will inquire about the conditions of the water before jumping in any unknown body of water. I respect all warning signals of the danger of the current. It is an experience that I have carried on for years and applied in other life experiences.
I share this story with you because I know that chances are you might fail or fall in the beginning of trying something new. Whether it’s a hobby, a job or a relationship, your first thought might be to give up or that it’s not worth trying again – we all feel this sometimes.
During these times, I think back to my drowning” experience. If I had given up, and I had good reason to, I almost drowned, I would have never experienced snorkeling in the coral reefs of Mexico, Sardinia and Thailand.
It’s what gave me the courage to pursue this journey.
Truth is, when I took my decision, I didn’t have a ‘secret trick’ to avoid failure. At first, I tried to come up with the perfect plan to avoid failure. The more I did this, the more I realized that mistakes and failure were impossible to avoid. So, I made excuses as to why it was better not to make the change. It took me a year to acknowledge that I would most probably fail along the way and to stop making excuses to hide behind my fear of the unknown. Just like my ‘drowning experience’, my mistakes would give me the knowledge of what does not work.
Taking action would be the only way I would gain that knowledge.
My mistakes would be my teacher, not sitting around waiting for the perfect plan to come along.
If I had ONE SECRET that brought to take my first step, it’s that
I stopped smiling every morning waking up to go to work.
The thought of not having a smile on my face every morning, scared me more than making mistakes at trying something I really wanted to do.
The worst regret in life is not over the things you did but, in the things you never tried or gave up on because of your fear of failing.
It’s been over 2 years since I took a major leap. Guess what? I am still learning and discovering new things.
Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his two jobs for being “non-productive”. “As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fall 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fall 1,000 times.”
“The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
How about you? Have you tried doing something that in the beginning, you thought meant failure? What was your ‘secret trick’ to doing it anyway?