Beaten at the Start Line

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I’m a huge cycling fan, so these three weeks are pretty much dedicated to following the Tour de France. Versus recently ran a profile where they interviewed the German cyclist Jens Voigt. Jens is an all around nice guy, known for his aggressive cycling. He’ll always jump out ahead of the group and try to win the race, even though the chances of winning this way are really slim.

So they asked him why he spent so much of his time working against such incredible odds, when so many riders don’t. And he said something really profound.

“One of my first coaches, when I was really really young, he already told me, ‘In case of doubt, just go for it!’

If you try to win, you might lose. But if you don’t try to win, you lose for sure. When you’re at the start line, and you know you’re not really gonna take a chance, you know you’re beaten at the start line. How frustrating is that? … When I go out, it’s a small chance that I’ll actually succeed. But it’s by far better than nothing! … It’s better to take a small chance in your hand, make your own destiny, instead of just waiting for other people to just drop you off their wheel. That’s another missed chance. And I do not want to have that, you know?”

I think that’s a great approach to life. I’ve been trying to live that way the last few years. Not fearless, but working regardless of my fears. Life’s too short to be hemmed into a small space. If you define what you will and won’t do by your fears, you’ll eventually find yourself living in a box that shrinks every year, surrounded by walls of all those things you dare not try. You need to push those walls out, climb over them, dig under them, punch holes through them… and just do!

What’s the worst thing that can happen? You might fail? You might fail 95% of the time? So what? If you don’t try, and fail 95% of the time, you’ll never get those 5% of successes either. And you’ve lost before you’ve even started.