picture for Take the PlungeI read some great advice on Chris Brogan’s website a few weeks ago. In a post titled Start Somewhere, he said, “People will say, ‘I want to get started in public speaking.’ I say, ‘So speak.’ They say, ‘But no one will have me.”’ He told his readers to speak anyway. Then he went on to tell his readers how he spoke anywhere he could just to do it. He didn’t let the fear of doing something new get in his way and prevent him from doing what he wanted to do.

I think a lot of us are afraid to do something new. We’re afraid of failing. Sometimes that fear prevents us from trying something that will make us happy and successful. We’re afraid of doing something we want to do because we’re afraid of what failure might do to our lives, to our incomes, to our lifestyles. We’re afraid that we might have to go back to what we did before. We never consider the idea that failure makes us stronger. For me, I carry the fear of failure with me everywhere. It’s with me when I approach new clients, offer new services, and even when redesigning my website.

In past posts, I’ve written about my first editing jobs. When I first took the plunge, I volunteered for two local Colorado Springs nonprofits. I needed to find out if freelancing was a fit, and I needed to get some experience. I wasn’t sure if my years of teaching would be valued. Even with thinking about how my years of teaching would relate to my new editing career, failure didn’t occur to me. It wasn’t an option.

Over these past seven years, I’ve thought about failure a lot. I always think about the possibility of failure when I apply for new editing projects, or when I work with new clients for the first time. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve failed. But in failing, I’ve learned valuable lessons. The key word here is learn. You can’t learn if you don’t fail. You can’t fail if you don’t try.

Besides thinking about failure, I always think about what if. What if I don’t try; what if they like me and I get more projects; what if I learn something in the process? What if I discover what I really like to do? I’ve discovered that what ifs are more important to me than failure. What ifs inspire me; they keep me going. They give me a reason. They’re the reason I contact potential clients and continue contacting them until I get an answer.

What ifs give me the courage to try something new, to put myself out there. They egg me on. Failure is important too because I always learn something each time I fail. But without what ifs, without taking the first step and the risk, I’d still be at the starting gate.

You can’t succeed if the fear of failure holds you back. Quiet that voice. Ask what if and take the plunge. Who knows, you may find your niche, your destiny, your calling. You may become the next Chris Brogan. It’s worth a shot.