Floating to the Edge of “This Might Not Work”

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If I’m not saying to myself, ‘This might not work’ … then I haven’t pushed myself hard enough.

Seth Godin

I absolutely love the quotation above. It captures the essence of any project worth doing and has been particularly applicable in my own entrepreneurial journey. It is the edge. That place we stand, facing the possible and experiencing the discomfort of the risk in leaping toward it. Age and experience don’t matter – there is an edge for us at any stage of our life. At that edge, we realize that “this might not work.”

What then? The easy thing is to shrink from it. Retreat. Most of us have built a life of comfort. A life of safety. This doesn’t mean that we’re satisfied or that we’ve stopped aspiring to more. Nor does it mean that we live risk free. It means that we go to places we know, interact with people familiar to us, take jobs we’re certain we can do, and make decisions that reinforce those comfortable, safe feelings. Our natural state is to move away from risk. Identify it. Manage it. Eliminate it. School, job, relationship, money…decision after decision, we aim for the comfortable place. Well, at least it’s the place that we feel is most comfortable. The place that seems less risky.

Still, things seem to happen. We lose the comfortable job. Our long-term relationship ends. Our portfolio tanks. Tragedy strikes. @!#$ happens. So much for comfort. So much for safety. Yet, time and again, we move on. We recover. We push through. We lean-in. If safety is never quite as safe as it appears, is it possible that the risks might not be as great as they seem?

If safety is never quite as safe as it appears, is it possible that the risks might not be as great as they seem?

Not so long ago, I saw the headline to a post entitled: “Why Most People Will Never Succeed.” I didn’t bother reading it. There are a million reasons why someone might not succeed but there are only two that truly matter: 1) the person didn’t try or 2) the person chose the wrong success.  If you define the right success for you based on your priorities, values, and the price you are willing to pay, then you will find it if you try. There is always success waiting for us if we are willing to recognize it. Sometimes, it looks different than what we expected.

“This might not work” means that you are choosing to push yourself toward something that you might not reach. A success that is a stretch. Falling short doesn’t necessarily mean failure nor does it have to be the end. We almost always find something else along the way. Another version of success. A new discovery about our self. Perhaps a completely different perspective on why we started down the path to begin with. All this from simply stepping to the edge, accepting the risk of failure, and leaping anyway.

There is always success waiting for us if we are willing to recognize it.

What might not work for you in the days ahead? Think about it and answer the question wholeheartedly. Because, on the flip side are those things that just might work for you. That crazy idea that you could never implement. The job opportunity that is so completely out of your league. A project that would have a huge impact on your company or not-for-profit and is simply impossible. The list is endless. What might you do if you knew that failure was impossible? THAT is the edge…and the opportunity.

By the way, that risk you see lying beyond the edge? It might actually be less than the risk of standing still – the unseen risk of a false sense of security. Find your own edge and then move beyond it. Who knows? It might just work.

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