Fear of the Unknown: Embrace Uncertainty


Emmitt 1 Emmitt Dei Richards
I will begin this with a quote from the rapper Canibus.
“A wise man sees failure as progress, a fool divorces his knowledge and misses the logic and loses his soul in the process.”

I heard this song years ago while in college and it sort of resonated with me on how to assess failure a little bit differently than using all or none thinking which can be a reflection of anxiety, perfectionism and lack of experience in the new endeavor you are pursuing.

By all accounts throughout history there have been people who have failed but never recovered or learned from their mistakes, while others saw it as a way to progress towards something more or different.  You could argue these traits are a form of nature versus nurture in terms of how people deal with adversity in their lives, but I think it’s in someone’s environment that shapes how they deal with those situations. The questions that come to mind for me are “What were their surroundings like? What about their parents, schooling, etc.”

Everyone deals with a fear of failure but its how you perceive this new endeavor can dramatically change how you adapt in the future. For example, say you set out to start a new company that provides a niche service you feel will greatly benefit a lot of people. But you can’t get any loan or capital to get it jump started. What do you do? Only you will know the answer when a situation like that arrives, but think for yourself about some of the options you might use in order to get past that.

The mere thought of failing at something can fill you with an anxiousness that makes you feel like you are being drowned, right at the barrier between water and oxygen. Picture your goal as the oxygen but the process as the water that is drowning you.

We find ways to come up with excuses on how these things won’t get done: money, time, not good enough etc.  All of those are arbitrary in nature. We must be willing to sacrifice what we want for what we need because sometimes that line cannot be crossed if we are going to have a chance at our personal greatness (whatever that means to you). Sometimes people mistake this pursuit as materialistic in nature, that desires have no boundaries, fear will always claim a victim, victory will always have its heroes.

I have failed at starting or finishing projects that range from setting goals of writing an e-book, starting different businesses, or just remembering to close my garage door before I leave home. I have big and small failures everyday, but the goal, like the quote above, is to see it as a progress towards something “different.”

Although I have failed at many things, what I gained from the most was the process, not succeeding or failing per se. Sometimes process is what counts, being in the thick of it at that moment waiting for the next directions to come along for you to take a right, straight or left in that fork in the road. This is where you reflect on minute decisions you’ve made to get you to Point Zero. I call it Point Zero because the end is truly another beginning. In order to reap the benefits of “process” we must START our journey somewhere.



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