You Can't Fail

What Would You Attempt if You Knew You Could Not Fail?

My 10-year-old granddaughter Haiden spent the weekend with me not long ago. She had disobeyed her mother. It wasn’t a small thing. While the rest of her family and the next door neighbor’s family left for a planned trip to the lake to swim and ride jet skis, Haiden had been dropped off at my house.

Ouch. No grandmother can compete with a jet ski. We made pizza with cauliflower crust. I covered my side with fresh basil leaves, spinach, artichoke hearts, black olives and mozzarella. Haiden, who is quite adventurous covered hers with mozzarella…and red grapes.

She made a roaring fire in the chimenea one night after dark. She read books and practiced kicking her soccer ball. I couldn’t tell if she’d even thought about her behavior.

She came out of her bedroom one afternoon with her brows furrowed. “I’ve been thinking about that sign you have in my room. It says, What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? I figured out what I’d do! I’d invent a potion that would allow me to fly. I’ve always wanted to fly!”

“That’s a great way to use your imagination!” I said.

She went outside and climbed to the top of my magnolia tree. She looked like a little blonde peeper bird sitting up there surrounded by leaves. She sat there for a long time with a puzzled expression on her face. I couldn’t help wonder what she was pondering.

After a while, she ran to the kitchen. “Mimi! That’s not what I would do if I knew I couldn’t fail! I changed my mind! Cancel the flying potion!”

“Okay,” I said sitting down with her at the kitchen table. “The potion is cancelled! What would you do?”

“I would invent a teleport machine. It would take me back in time so I could make different choices!”

Oh, so she’s been processing it all along.

I kissed her earnest little face. “What a perfect thing to do.”

Over the next few days, I kept thinking about Haiden’s teleport system. I realized that we all needed one. If I had access to it, I would go back to change a choice I’d made when I was 21. My husband had been so excited when he told me that he’d arranged for me to play the part of a bank teller who was robbed by John Dillinger in the opening scene of a movie being filmed here.

I’d been horrified. In the intensive care where I worked, I could handle multiple resuscitations at the same time with no problem. The very idea of putting my introverted self in front of a camera almost resulted in hives. I didn’t take the part.

However, over the years I’ve learned the value of pushing myself out of my comfort zone. It builds character. If the opportunity came again would I want to do it? Never in a million years. But I would make myself do it.

What would you do if you had Haiden’s teleport? Would you go back in time and change your choice not to attend a writer’s retreat because you were positive that you’d be the odd man out? That everyone else would know what they were doing?

Would the fear of failure keep you from starting the book you want to write? Would it keep you from attending a writer’s conference? From submitting your work to publishers?

The bad news is that Haiden isn’t quite ready to release her teleport to the public. So you can’t go back in time.

What you can do is change the future. Make different choices. Force yourself out of your comfort zone and build a little character.

While you can’t change the past, you can get the same revelation that Haiden got. The future is a golden ribbon of promise.

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