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Ever since I was a little kid, this has been my favorite question: “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”

A teacher presented this to me one day in class when I wasn’t exactly living up to my full potential. At first, I dismissed it as kids often do, but it stuck with me for days. When I finally directed my full attention to it, I became quite fond of it, and the way it sparked my imagination.

As a kid, I thought that question was simply fun, but as an adult I understand its true brilliance.

For just a second, it allows us put our fears on hold. It gives us the permission to admit to ourselves the truth about what we want. Whether it’s that deep down we want to be an astronaut, rock star, or President of the United States, we all have unreasonable dreams and ambitions. However, we’re so terrified we won’t achieve them, we hide them from ourselves.

Instead, we tell ourselves that we don’t know what we want to do, or that we’re waiting for a sign, or that we’re still weighing our “options”. But the truth of course, is that we generally know what we want. And to ignore that is silly, and unproductive.

When you make a real decision, the world magically organizes around it. I have a friend, Barry, who is a full time accountant, terrified to admit that he wants to be a professional screenwriter. I told him to immediately create a website and print business cards for his new career and the right people and opportunities might begin to show up. I’m not referring to the law of attraction (I’m agnostic in that regard) – I’m speaking about a much more practical phenomenon.

When at a party, if Barry defines himself as an accountant and that’s the way he introduces himself, people will treat him as an accountant. All of his conversations and interactions will revolve around accounting.

But if Barry shows up to the party as a professional screenwriter, and he makes that clear to others and to himself, interesting things start to happen. The person he’s chatting with might point out that her husband is a movie producer and might be able to help. Or maybe the waiter, who is also an actor might overhear the conversation and offer Barry some sage advice about the movie industry. There are many people in the world willing to help those who have decided, but unfortunately, those who haven’t get ignored.

Decide. You must. It’s scary but it’s imperative you do. Here’s the great news though, you don’t have to go with your first choice (you don’t have to be an astronaut). Go with your second or third or tenth choice. Go with a choice, though. Because the universe rewards decisions. You’ll be 100 times closer to your dreams even if you make the wrong decision than no decision at all.

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Al Pittampalli is on a mission to helps organizations transform meetings, make decisions, and coordinate complex teams. His new book, Read This Before Our Next Meeting, was the most popular Kindle book in the world during the week of its release. Now, Al is part of a new generation that brings fresh eyes to stuck business systems.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Failure occurs only if we allow it. We should not delegate responsibility for our lives to others and we cannot deny that we, and we alone, are responsible for our feelings. Failure is not an event or an occurrence, it is merely a feeling we allow to grow within us. As Thomas Edison once said when inventing the light bulb, ‘I have not failed, I have just uncovered 10,000 ways it will not work.’

  2. Showing up as a professional screenwriter is ” not being honest.” If you really are one,then doors will open, and business will grow. Pretendimg to be someone you are not will backfire big time.

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