The other day, I was having lunch with my friend and colleague C. W. Miller, and I was telling him about one of my goals and the steps I was about to take toward it. The whole thing sounded pretty crazy—stupid even—which I acknowledged. C. W., however, didn’t agree. He just laughed and said, “It’s only stupid if it doesn’t work.”
I’d never thought of it that way, but he’s absolutely right! It might seem stupid, but if it works, it miraculously becomes inspired, innovative and genius! Yet we’ll hold back and totally eliminate the possibility that something amazing could happen because we’re afraid we might look or feel stupid if it doesn’t work out the way we hope. It’s safer to just not try than to step out in front of the world—or even our friends and family—and risk looking stupid.
The truth is that things won’t always work out exactly the way you want them to. It’s just part of life and you have to learn to deal with it in a way that keeps you moving forward anyway. Otherwise, “fear of failure” will keep you from ever doing anything, which means you’ll never know how great it feels when crazy, stupid dreams do work out.
Not going for your dreams doesn’t keep you safe from looking stupid, it just keeps you contained—it keeps you bored and boring. It also keeps you having to justify why you aren’t doing anything—and pretending you don’t want to.
Because, you see, no matter how much you try to “not want” more, you still do, which creates an ongoing internal conflict—and the volatile emotions that go with it. You get angry, sad, depressed, irritated or just seem to “check out” and don’t really know why. Only you really do know—you’re just afraid to admit it. You’re not happy with the way things are in your life, but admitting it means you have to actually do something about it.
Whether it’s making a change in a relationship, getting serious about your health, going back to school, changing careers, writing a book, starting your own business or moving to a new place, you can’t be afraid of looking stupid or you’ll never do it—you’ll never do anything. And, you’ll never really live.
So, forget about whether it seems stupid or not, and follow what your heart says. Play the “what if” game—the “What If It Did Work?” game. Live out that scenario in your mind and feel the excitement of it happening—enjoy ever possible fabulous moment you can imagine.
If it doesn’t work out exactly as you thought it would, you haven’t failed—not even close! You’ve done something! You’ve made an incredible leap out of your comfort zone and have embraced a totally different way of being—you’ve become willing to allow yourself to dream and go for what you want. And that is never stupid!
So, here’s my revised version of my stupid statement: The outcome is beside the point; it’s only stupid if you don’t go for your dreams.
Now, get out there and start living the life you truly love!
PS: That photo is one I took at sunrise on the beach in Florida a few weeks ago. Now, those who know me find it unbelievable that I got out of bed and walked almost a mile just so I could see the sun rise on the ocean, but I did–many times. The whole idea of spending a month in Florida was an impossible—some might say “stupid”— dream that became a reality simply because I decided it would. I went way out on a limb and risked looking stupid in about fifteen different ways on that trip. Things may not have turned out exactly as I’d pictured or hoped in every area, but in many ways they were even better–fabulous even! Can’t wait to see what stupidly wonderful thing comes next!
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Paula Renaye is The Tough Love Coach, an empowerment speaker and the award-winning author of Living the Life You Love: The No-Nonsense Guide to Total Transformation, which was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best of 2012 list.