I have spent most of my life behaving myself. Doing the conventional and achieving success in a traditional way. Not that there is anything wrong with that. In fact, it has all turned out just fine.
However, the question remains whether I would have achieved even more and/or had more fun if I had allowed myself to be more outrageous. Not in the absolute sense but relative to my own self.
What if I had taken more risk? Talked myself out of fewer things (in the context of pursuing dreams)? More acts of commission rather than omission? What if I had done more experimenting, and spent less time being afraid to be wrong or to fail?
What if I had embraced “failing forward” sooner? I have to thank former colleague and strategic consultant Eric Best for introducing me to the term. “Fail forward” perfectly captures the sentiment that it is important to “go for it”; that failure is necessary for success and never failing means we aren’t trying hard enough. We all fail at some time or another, and the important thing is to always fail in a forward direction – by pursuing a goal rather than talking oneself out of trying. At the behest of some others, I have tempered this to refer to it as “experiment forward”, but either way, the idea is the same.
In this next phase of my career, I am being fearless. I am “experimenting forward” and yes, even “failing forward”. Not enough quite yet, as decades of habit require time to change, but I am “coming along nicely” as my husband tells me.
And so, I am starting a new part of my blog to celebrate those who have done something outrageous within their own context and stayed true to who they are. Outrageous, after all, is in the eye of the beholder, and what seems outrageous in the conventional context may turn out to be just what the world needs us to be. At least we will be true to ourselves.
Actually, the genesis of this “outrageous” theme comes from a conversation I had a few months ago with Owen Marcus, a friend and coach who helps men be the best they can be (by the way, it works for women too!). After hearing about my efforts to become fearless, he suggested that I do something I would consider outrageous every day and write about that.
As I work up to that grander ambition, this blog theme of celebrating others who have done “outrageous” is about as close as I can get to it right now. Owen, does this “baby step” qualify as my outrageous act for today?