“What’s the worst that can happen?” That’s the Advice That I’m Taking into 2021
5 minute read
A piece of advice my dad imparted to me – one that has really resonated for me this past year – was something he said whenever I faced a crossroads or a risky choice in life. He would ask me, “What’s the worst that can happen?” This past year, as some of the worst imaginable scenarios have played out globally, his advice has actually helped to put a lot of personal decisions in perspective. And not just for me. We’re witnessing vast changes in society that will resonate for years and decades to come; maybe this is your time to take that personal risk, take the plunge, and take control of your future?
My dad’s advice pops up several times in my book, Undaunted: Overcoming Doubts and Doubters. Like when I walked into a toy store at age 14 and asked for a job. And got it! (“What’s the worst that can happen?” I must have thought.) People have asked me, looking back, how did I have the courage at such a young age to ask for that job? But here’s the thing: I didn’t have anything to lose. If Nancy, the store owner, didn’t give me the job, then I was no more behind than I was before I walked into the store and offered myself up. Just try!
The same advice applies to the book itself. I never thought I would be an author. It was never on my bucket list. I started writing my thoughts out four years ago, putting pen to paper, first in a journal. I didn’t know how to go about writing a book. But I didn’t let my fears hold me back from trying. And now that it’s complete and has a few accolades under its belt, I’m not gonna lie, it feels pretty great. In retrospect, the four-year process of writing the book was therapeutic. Thinking about many of the choices I had made in my life, so many of them came back to my dad’s question: What’s the worst that can happen?
My daughter came to me a while ago for advice about re-applying to a school that had rejected her the year before. She didn’t want to do it because they had said “no” already. I explained to her that if she didn’t try, then she would never know if she could get in. And that would be her choice. I smiled at her as I gave her my two cents, and she grimaced. “Why are you smiling?” she said. “What’s wrong with you?” I told her I was just imagining her years from now, wildly successful in her career, sitting down for an interview, and being asked about her biggest regret in life. “And I see you smiling back saying, ‘A school I wanted to go to didn’t admit me. Twice.’”
There is never a good time. You will always have reasons why you can’t do something. But remember, your time is limited. Today and in life. Do what comes to you. Believe that it’s coming to you for a reason. Take the shot. Don’t go chasing someone else’s idea of a great career or a city to live in or a life that seems fulfilling. Listen to your inner voice. Take risks and follow your intuition. Even when others think you are wrong, let them live their life and go on their journey. You will be happier for it.
If I could go back in time and say one thing to my younger self, here is what I would say: Follow no path. Make your own.
And that is my wish for all of you: Make Your Own Path.
Wishing you all a cheering (if somewhat unconventional) holiday season. And all the best in 2021!
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