Lay your cards on the table

We all have dreams. We all aspire and hope. But sometimes we’re too cautious with sharing those dreams and visions with others. Perhaps we fear they’ll steal our ideas. Perhaps we feel people will secretly laugh at us because they think our dreams unrealistic or our hopes naive. But mostly, we avoid sharing our dreams and visions because we do not want to fail in the eyes of others. Failure is a hard thing, but public failure is worse. We too often take the course of action that allows us to give it a shot in a way that no one knows about. That way, if we don’t make it, we don’t have to admit it to anyone else. It can be our little secret.

The problem with this is two-fold. First, it robs others of the ability to cheer us on, to encourage us through the rough patches, to celebrate with us when we win, and to commiserate with us when we fail. It robs us of a level of friendship and intimacy with others that only comes through vulnerability. But second, it holds us back from a great number of opportunities because the risk of public failure is great. We are soldiers at the river’s edge, desperate for the safety of the far banks, but the only way is to swim through the dark current, exposed and vulnerable. And so we retreat back to the woods, to the darkness, where no one will see us when we fall.

Tell someone your dream. Ask them about that idea that’s been gnawing at you. Put yourself out there. Be vulnerable. Yes, you will fail, and it will be embarrassing and humbling. But the alternative is life lurking at the edge of the shadows, never fully exposing yourself to the light, never really risking everything for your dreams. You’re better than that.

Side note: the act of writing and publishing this post was one of my little acts of public failure. My wife told me that it was “kind of lame” and she’s probably right, but I’d like to hear what you have to think, and how it could be better. In my own defense, I was pretty tired when I wrote this, and I’ve been reading a lot of fiction lately, so perhaps the imagery was a bit much 🙂