Remember that old Tom Petty song?
“Learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings. Coming down is the hardest thing.”
Or, to spin it in another direction…
“It’s not the fall that hurts, it’s the landing.”
And that reminds me of a story…
Once upon a time, in the faraway land of Minnesota there lived a young lady named Susan.
While she was growing up, Susan returned home every day to find her father impatiently waiting for her by the front door.
And every day without fail, he’d ask her the same curious question,
“How’d you screw up today?”
Susan always answered truthfully.
“I did a new experiment in science class, but it melted and shot goop all over everybody,” or,
“I tried out for the lead in the school play, but they chose someone else,” or,
“I got creative with my book report, but the teacher didn’t appreciate it so she gave me an F.”
And every day her father reacted the same way.
He’d high-five her and say, “Nice! Way to go!”
“So what do you have planned for tomorrow?”
Not exactly the common sense approach to parenting now, is it.
No, it’s a lot better.
See, Susan ended up being one of the happiest and most successful people you can imagine, because her father taught her a valuable lesson early in life.
A lesson that flies in the face of so-called conventional wisdom.
He taught her to laugh in the face of so-called failure - to go for what she wants even if there’s a good chance she might not succeed.
He taught her to embrace the inevitable mistakes and missteps that result from pushing yourself beyond your limits, because the only way to know what you’re fully capable of is to take it to the edge and then go one step farther.
So when people tell you that you’re about to make a mistake, and especially when they start spouting off about common sense or conventional wisdom...
Thank them and realize, now’s the time, more than ever, to think for yourself and trust your gut, because conventional wisdom and common sense are the scourge of free thinkers. They are the corral that contains the herd mind.
And not one single person who has ever discovered, achieved or created anything new or inspiring has ever done so while their vision was filled with the ass of the sheep in front of them.
Accept the challenge. Make mistakes.
See how far you can go before you stumble. And then take one more step.
You know, it’s not the fall or even the landing that really hurts. Not for very long, anyway.
People knocking at death’s door will tell you, their biggest regrets aren’t the things they failed at in life.
No, their biggest regrets are the chances they never took.
The love they never risked.
All the times they followed the straight and narrow, rather than spreading their wings and taking that leap of faith… because they let fear hold them back.
And that’s crazy, because the secret to soaring high in life is actually pretty simple.
To fly, all you need to do is learn how to fall and miss the ground.
(It might take some practice.)