Hope is a wonderful thing – it gets us through the dark times, those times when nothing seems to be going right, when we start to wonder whether we will ever reach our goal. We tell ourselves that so long as there is light at the end of the tunnel, it will all be worthwhile. The very fact that we retain our vision of that perfect life, the successful business, the lovely house and family, the travel and adventure, that’s what allows us to keep on going. Many a successful business owner has been motivated by hope, to keep on going despite seemingly insurmountable odds.
But hope has another, darker, less helpful side. It leads us to decide that we have to keep the dream alive at any cost. Even at the cost of not achieving it!
Let me explain: when hope becomes too important, we start to avoid taking the steps we know we need to take, in case we fail. We fear that if we take action and it doesn’t quite work out, that’s it, our dream will be lost. But by putting off taking the steps, we can convince ourselves that the dream is still out there, safely waiting for us, at some indeterminate future time.
So we wait, honing our skills, refining our plans, playing around with spreadsheet after spreadsheet that shows how great it’s all going to be when the dream comes true. Waiting until we are ready, until we are certain we won’t break the dream. Until it’s too late – the opportunity has passed by, our spreadsheets are all obsolete, and our plans have already been realised – by someone else (trust me, I’ve been there!) And hope dies with the dream.
But here’s the thing: it’s not failing that kills the dream – it’s not even trying. When we try and fail, we learn a new way not to do it, so we can devise something even more creative and have another go. It’s called ‘failing forward’ – learning from every attempt, and adjusting accordingly. Thomas Edison is reported to have said that he hadn’t failed a thousand times, he had simply found 1,000 ways NOT to make a light-bulb. And only by taking the risk of trying each ‘latest’ idea did he eventually discover exactly what worked.*
What are you not risking, to keep your dream “alive”?
If fear of failing is keeping you stuck, take a look at my “From Stuck To Unstoppable” coaching programme – it might be just what you need!
*Don’t get me started on whether it was really Edison who invented the light-bulb, I worked for many years in Dutch giant Philips’ lighting division, and we had our own ideas about that!