What You Would Do If You Knew You Couldn’t Lose.

Nothing different than you are doing right now.

That’s the truth.  Ugly perhaps.  But the truth.

We often work ourselves up into “hypothetical overload” standing around pretending like we would live our lives differently if we magically knew that nothing we would do could fail.

If you have ever been to a motivational workshop or seminar, you know how effectively speakers use this line of thinking: “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t lose?  What would you do?  That’s what you need to do right now…”

Hysterics aside, that’s just not how life works.

That’s not how you are wired to think or act or perform. You do fail. You always will fail. And the potential of not failing doesn’t change what you would do or could do one tiny little bit.

In fact, the chances you could lose makes the conquest all the more exciting. Chances are, if you knew that you couldn’t lose, you wouldn’t try all that hard. Why would you? After all, you are guaranteed to be successful.

But that doesn’t make any sense.  How can you be successful without feeling the sting of loss and failure?  There is no success – big audacious success – without the overwhelming odds that you could lose it all.

And that makes what you’re doing important.

Almost magical. You can lose. You will lose. Sometimes badly.

But you also get a chance to win. To win big. To attempt things that no one else in the world has the guts to achieve like you do. That’s what you get to do. That’s your opportunity.

It’s a better opportunity than a free ride.  It’s more fulfilling than walking down “easy street”. You know that at any time, you’re only a few steps away from being a complete loser. The only thing that separates you from utter disaster is your will to win.

So enough with the stupid, hypothetical questions.

Life isn’t hypothetical. It’s not hyperbole. It’s painful and sad and gritty at times.  Along the way you are guaranteed to lose time and friends and money.  Sometimes self-respect, dignity, and courage.

But losing is for winners. Winners lose.  And then they stand back on their feet and fight on.  That’s what they do, knowing that they could lose again. And likely will.

Here’s the truth.  You wouldn’t do anything differently if you knew you couldn’t lose. You probably aren’t doing anything different right now, knowing full well that if you put in enough effort you’ll win big.

Perhaps the better question is: “What will you do knowing that you’re likely to lose for awhile before thing start working out?”

That’s not hypothetical. That’s the choice you have to make right now.

  • http://jacobyount.com/ Jacob Yount

    There is too much hyperbole in the everyday walk and we’re inundated with it too much in the work-realm, blog world, even the grocery store. People who sit around talking that nonsense probably fault apart like a 2-dollar suitcase once they go through the valley. But once you stare losing square in the face and prepare it tackle it on your way to winning….that’s what winning is all about.

    A good post; salute.

    • http://www.DanWaldschmidt.com/ Dan Waldschmidt

      I agree Jacob. Well said…. Enough with the theatrics and the drama. Just “rise up”. Take a hit and keep on running!


  • http://twitter.com/NickBianchi Nick Bianchi

    I’ve always had a problem with this particular question too, but I differ slightly in my reasoning. The question of what you would choose to do if you knew you could not fail is supposed to get to the core of what your values truly are. Personally, I think if I believed I couldn’t possibly fail at anything I attempted my view of my role in the world would change. This would alter my values, which defeats the purpose of the question.

    For example, I would probably choose to bring peace or fresh, clean water to all of mankind because I would see it as my duty to do since my success would be guaranteed. In truth, I am unlikely to attempt this because in reality I’m much better salesperson than I am a negotiator of world peace.


    • http://www.DanWaldschmidt.com/ Dan Waldschmidt

      You bring up a great point… from an interesting angle. I think you can do just about anything you put your mind to do. There needs to be effort expended…


  • Bob Kunkle Jr

    I love this post. Thanks for telling it like it is.
    I’ve worked with a bunch of people who’ve failed.
    I’ve failed.
    Your words ring true.

    • http://www.DanWaldschmidt.com/ Dan Waldschmidt

      Thanks for the kind words, Bob. Glad that you enjoyed the article.

      You made a simple comment that is really profound: “I’ve Failed”. A lot of people never stop to think about the truth of their own life experience.

      Keep being awesome.


  • Leisa

    “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succedd.” Michael Jordan Quote

    • http://www.DanWaldschmidt.com/ Dan Waldschmidt

      This is what winners do. They pick themselves up and keep trying. They learn from what goes wrong. They push themselves to be better all the time.

      Thanks for sharing this quote, Leisa.

  • http://www.facebook.com/george.secko George Secko

    I prefer to avoid stupid & hypothetical blogs like this by calling on Rudyard Kipling:

    “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

    And treat those two impostors just the same”

    This is from his poem “If” which has more wise reflections.

    • http://www.DanWaldschmidt.com/ Dan Waldschmidt

      For such a stupid blog post, you brought some cool insights, George. Kipling had some pretty cool quotes in his life. Right?


  • Darren

    The other way round is to take Thomas Edison “I have never failed, I have just found 9,000 ways that do not work.” The value (as you so rightly say Dan) is in the effort expended. If it is worth it to you, then that is all that matters. YOU are the one that counts in the fight, not the rest. YOURS is the only measure you have to rise above. It is YOUR hurdle to clear. So what would you do if you knew you would not fail? Fail anyway….

    • http://www.DanWaldschmidt.com/ Dan Waldschmidt

      Well noted Darren. Imagine how unstoppable we would each be if we decided to keep trying a few more times.


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