The failures that haunt me are the ones that no one knows about. They’re the times I failed to ask for help, to speak up, or to take a risk.
I call this failing by omission.
Recognizing this brand of failure can be tricky, because you haven’t exactly fallen flat on your face. It usually begins with a bit of insecurity and a nagging case of the “what ifs.” Sometimes the losses are so small that they go undetected for a long while.
But trust me, they add up.
I missed out on job opportunities because I didn’t apply.
I settled for lower salaries because I didn’t negotiate or ask for a raise.
I let someone else take credit for my work and I didn’t speak up.
I lost my love for a job because I didn’t ask for help when I was burned out.
I missed out on making new connections because I was too intimidated to introduce myself.
I hurt dear friends because of the words I didn’t say.
I lose the lottery every dang time… because I don’t play.
What if I applied, asked, introduced, reached out, took a gamble? I’ll never really know. But the important piece to any type of failure is that we learn something from it. If we’re lucky, we learn not to dwell on the past, but instead, to channel our hopes through those“what-ifs.”
What if we avoid getting stuck by taking a single step? What if we embrace discomfort instead of being paralyzed by fear? What if we think, “What’s the worst that could happen?” What if we give it all we’ve got instead of wondering what could have been?
What if we don’t fail, but succeed in ways we’ve never imagined?