What’s the worst thing that could happen?

worst thing christian lautenschleger

worst thing christian lautenschleger

What holds us back?  The person who holds us back the most is ourselves.  What’s the worst thing that could happen?  Our minds are genetically-engineered to be risk-averse. We’d rather not lose than gain.  We also regret not doing things than actually taking the change and doing things.  Go figure.  No wonder relationships “are complicated”.

Let’s get this out of the way first.  The worst thing that could happen to us is die.  How often do we do something that might actually kill someone? Outside of driving, which – knock on wood – rarely results in someone dying, how often does something we do hit a mortality rating?  Skydiving?  Solo climbing or BASE jumping?  Know anyone who does those?  Exactly. Our worst thing probably doesn’t involve death.

There’s abundant information proving we’d rather not lose than possibly gain.  Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman’s lost aversion theory won him the Economic Prize, as a psychologist. The power of losing is twice as great as the power of winning.  We’re twice as likely to avoid losing than we are of putting ourselves in a position to win.  “What’s the worst thing that could happen” sounds snarky, but the science is we’re trying to keeping ourselves from possibly losing.

But really, what’s the worst thing that could happen?  Afraid to get up in front of people to speak?  The irony is most people don’t want to be up there either, so it’s “better you than me”.  And the more experience we get at something, the better we become at it, so we might as well get up and present that speech.  We’ll be  better for it.  And you know what?  Nothing bad will come of it. More than likely we’ll kick ourselves in the rear while driving home from not presenting.  We don’t want to lose, but we don’t want to regret.

Going through life with the idea of what’s the worst thing that can happen is powerful.  It sends a message that the worst thing isn’t that bad, so why not go for it.  More than likely the only actual “bad” things that may result is lose of some time, money, or temporary embarrassment.

Time is valuable, because we never get any of it back, but it’s a fair trade-off because we will know what happened after we took that “risk”.  We can always make more money.  The people who go out of their comfort zone to try to do something become the successful ones anyhow.  People live in the moment so much most will soon forget our folly anyhow.  They may have a laugh with us later and say that “I would have done the same thing!”

It’s all in our heads.  We’re our best friends and worst enemies.  We make things up in our minds, both for good and bad.  Spin that logic that the worst thing that will happen is not all that bad.  It’ll actually be good for us because it gives up confidence, and experience.  So really, what’s the worst thing that will happen?

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