I learned to snowboard last year. I wasn’t very good, but I’ve improved quite a bit this year. So much so, that I actually took on my first black diamond two weeks ago. I fell twice, but got to the bottom intact and feeling pretty good. So my friend whom I was with encouraged me to join her in tackling a black diamond bowl. We could see the bowl from where we perched for lunch and we made a plan about how to navigate it. As I approached the top of the bowl, there was a big sign that said, “Extreme Terrain!” My stomach flip-flopped. I hesitated, unsure of whether I could really do this.
And the reality was that I failed. I got about as far as the length of 1-½ football fields. After falling twice, my legs were shaking and I was certain that I was going to slide off a giant cliff that I knew was lurking somewhere nearby, but I wasn’t sure of its exact location. After stopping for 5-6 minutes to try and pull myself together, I told my fearless friend to keep going. I took off my board and slowly, with an embarrassed red face, walked myself out of the bowl.
But I went boarding again two weeks later, and this time I attempted a different black diamond bowl – and I succeeded. And it was fun! And now I am ready to do it again.
This experience is why I really like the recent LinkedIn Post by Adam Grant on the alleged fearlessness of entrepreneurs. We perceive people like Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey to be fearless and to take on activities that the rest of us would never consider doing. And yet, what really drives them is a fear of being afraid of failing to try. They never want to look back and say, “What if…?” They want to know that, even if they fail, they gave it their best shot, and they know how they’ll do it better and differently next time. Kind of like my snowboarding experience.
In the words of the singer, P!nk, “Have you ever looked fear in the face and just said, ‘I just don’t care?’” Think about how many fewer regrets – and more successes through the lessons of failure – that we would all have if we embraced the attitude of entrepreneurs – and P!nk.