“I dare you” is a dangerous thing to say to someone like me who thinks that the most ridiculous suggestions are the best things to say “yes!” to, and who loves the game even though is very likely to lose.
There are different kinds of ways to dare; having the courage to go and ask for a salary raise or to be willing to try out new things and throw yourself at the unknown challenges even when you know there is a chance of you not coming out of it all on top.
I dare, lord knows I do! Sometimes unnecessarily much, though. There are times when I would do better keeping my trap shut but I like to test the limits. My reasoning for this is the fact that I’ve noticed that the best way to learn is by failing. Quite suitably, just like a circle closing, most quotes you can find about ‘daring’ are from people who are not afraid to fail. Here’s a couple of the good ones:
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert Kennedy
“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible!'” – Audrie Hepburn
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts” – Winston Churchill
“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.” – Seneca
I guess it’s easy to dare if you, like me, couldn’t be one bit interested in what other people think of you. This makes, for example, failing sooo much less frightening than if you’d give a damn. Also, growing up in a safe family and in a safe environment encourages you to take more risks in life because you know that there is a safety net you can always rely on if you stumble. And it never hurts if that safety net has included some strong women as role models.
As an example I could tell you that from personal experience moving abroad alone equipped with the knowledge that I can always return home if things go South has enabled me to make some big decisions in the past that have been required to get me to this point in my life. And I believe that this particular knowledge will take me much, much further still.
But what if the safety net isn’t enough? What if it’s your inner insecurities that stand on your way? Well, as is often wise, you can take a tip from an icon: the legend that is Walt Disney has said:
“First, think. Second, dream. Third, believe. Finally, dare”
I think that is a very good guideline to start with if you find it hard to throw yourself at new opportunities before doubts take over and you end up passing.
First, think. This applies to everything that you do; always think. You’ve been given a brain, use it to it’s fullest capacity, please. Don’t just think about the initial reaction that a certain suggestion or idea or opportunity wakes in you but move beyond that. If your first reaction was “Oh god, no, too risky/difficult/demanding/time-consuming/etc.” take a step back and ask yourself; “Or is it?”
Really think about the issue from different perspectives; if you think something sounds too difficult, could it be something that you can in fact learn? If it seems too time-consuming, think how much time would it really take, like really. And if it demands a certain amount of time, might you actually be able to spare it from your current schedule by rearranging your comings and goings?
All it takes is for you to just STOP at the exact point when your brain goes “No!” and calm the situation down so that you are able to evaluate it objectively instead of turning down a great opportunity literally without a thought.
Second, dream. OK, this might take some capability for mindfulness, because here you need to be able to really let yourself go; allow yourself to dream. Honestly, without bias and without any nay-saying. What opportunities could this suggestion or idea possibly open for you? What would be the ultimate, most outrageously great outcome?
When it comes to your dreams and wishes there are no stupid scenarios. Ever! It’s your dreams and wishes and you can dream and wish whatever you like as much as you like so go for it! That’s your first step towards reaching those exact dreams, believe me.
Third, believe. In yourself! Especially women are unfortunately gifted at doubting themselves and we need to break this vicious circle because it’s one of the reasons why we are lacking behind in many gender equality issues. We need to honestly understand our own capabilities and shout it to the world! It’s not arrogant or selfish as long as you declaring your greatness doesn’t break somebody’s ear, which is rather unlikely. Men can do it (quite well, I must admit) so why don’t we?
Example: When you are offered a senior position with a list of tasks that include things you don’t have experience of, forget the thought that you will suck at it, and instead remember that you are a human being and we human beings have this incredible capability to learn throughout our lives.
Decide that you will learn those things, that you don’t yet have experience of, and then just do it. To those who are shaking their heads right now, yes, it is exactly that simple. I know because I’ve done it several times.
Case example: I didn’t have any knowledge of IT industry when I was offered a job there at the age of 24 but I decided I would cope because I can learn what I need. And guess what? I coped! I coped better than anybody could ever have imagined, even me :D
Finally, dare. The last step, after you’ve done the thinking, listed the pros and cons, thought about how you could benefit from saying yes and decided that you’re (wo)man enough to do this, you need to go and do it. Answer ‘Yes’ and just go for the ride. What if you fail? Who cares, then you get up and keep going. Just gather everything you learned from the failure and use it to your advantage next time.
The most important thing is to just go for it. Trust in you because you can seriously do it. Even after failure, in fact especially after failure! Because each failure makes you smarter and each time you dare to continue after a failure makes you stronger. And one day you realize that shit, I’m bloody brilliant!
And to that I say: Yes you are! :)