When you’re lying on your death bed I bet you won’t be thinking, “I’m glad I played it safe when I was younger and didn’t do that presentation at work.”
You also won’t say, “I’m glad I didn’t do that speech at my best friend’s wedding, it might have been a bit embarrassing.”
Finally, you won’t be saying, “I’m glad I didn’t go to that job interview where they wanted me to do a 5 minute elevator pitch in front of human resources. It means I didn’t have to risk getting rejected.”
Here’s the thing: If you get an opportunity in life, better to take it than reject it. Even if you think it could be a bit risky. You can always recover when things go wrong. If you don’t try it, you’ll always wonder what could have been. If you try and fail, or you try and you succeed, you’ll grow as a result.
I had a near miss when I was younger. At the tender age of 20, and already working, I was asked by my company to travel on an overseas assignment. I was to go to London and help setup a new office. The assignment was for approximately 1 year.
What an offer! I can hear you say, “You said ‘yes’ immediately, right?”
Actually, at first I thought I would reject the offer.
You see, I was infatuated with a girl who had recently broken up with me. I thought if I hung around that we’d eventually get back together. If I went I risked never getting back together with the girl.
It was ridiculous! I was only 20 and I was getting the opportunity to travel overseas on someone else’s coin and I was ready to reject it!
I ended up accepting the assignment but not before a long process of consideration, where I nearly called my boss to say no on several occasions (despite friends and family urging me to go).
So I ended up accepting. I went to London. I worked in London for almost a year and then was asked to go to Hong Kong to do the same. After almost another year it was off to South Africa, then L.A., then back to South Africa, then New Zealand.
It was an amazing experience! To think, I nearly rejected the offer is crazy! It would never have worked out with my ex and if I’d rejected the offer I’d still be wondering, 20 years on, what could have been.
Before rejecting a new challenge, think very carefully. Do the risks really outweigh the possible life-changing benefits of taking up this challenge?
Even if you fail or the challenge turns sour, you will grow because of it.
Public speaking is tough to do the first time, but it’s a risk worth taking. You’ll get used to it and grow to enjoy it very quickly. You just have to take that first step.
By the way, that’s me in the photo, overcoming my fear of skydiving.