I’d wanted to write about this the day after President Obama’s State of the Union address, but I got distracted. Oh, don’t worry, this isn’t a ‘political’ post. I’m not about to dissect every word he said. The media has already done it.
Done it. And done it. And done it. I just want to talk about two sentences in his speech : “We were never sent here to be perfect. We were sent here to make what difference we can.”
Truer words were never spoken. What struck me was, the sentiment applies to almost every human endeavour you can think of. We are so obsessed with ‘getting it right’ all the time, sometimes we never get started. We stay stuck. We go nowhere. And you know what? We end up losing by default.
We’re so afraid we won’t be good enough, we never sign up for those art classes we’ve always wanted to take. Or the dance lessons. Or we don’t apply for a job we’d like for fear we wouldn’t get it. We’re afraid our low offer might be rejected, so we don’t bid on the house we like. Or we don’t ask the pretty girl out. Or start training for the marathon. Or enter the golf tournament.
Because if we don’t think we can ace it, we’ve made ourselves believe it’s not worth trying.
The amount of money we have to raise seems like an impossible task so, instead, we do no fundraising at all. Cutting through the red tape to get a new initiative off the ground is complicated, so we abandon the idea all together. There’ll be so many others applying for the same grant, we decide it’s a waste of time.
And if we can’t come up with a perfect 10 solution to the health care crisis, why bother taking the first step. If we can’t solve the immigration problem in the first go round, what’s the point?
Why take on projects we can’t win in round one?
Why take on projects that challenge us?
Why take on projects we might lose? Even if the odds are just as great we’d win. Why is it we can’t see the biggest risk of all?
That if we don’t, we’ll never accomplish anything. We’ll just stagnate. We’ll never get out of the rut we’re in. Our problems will get worse and worse. Nothing will ever get fixed. Or changed. Or improved. Or re-invented. Or just plain invented. Until all hope is lost. It could happen, you know. If we don’t snap out of this paralysis we’re in. The paralysis we’re in, as individuals. And the paralysis we’re in as nations.
It’s time for collaboration. Between individuals. Between party lines. Between the public and private sectors. Between countries. The issues we face are too huge to solve alone. Both intellectually and financially. They’re too complex. Require too many resources. It’s time to be willing to start somewhere. To move forward, even if it’s teeny, tiny baby steps.
To see the possibilities and not just the pitfalls. To believe we can, instead of convincing ourselves we can’t. To understand just going for it, is success in itself.
Entrepreneurs do it every day. Successful investors do it every day. Even throughout this financial crisis. So why can’t we? So why don’t we?