In his book, A More Beautiful Question, Warren Berger interviews serial entrepreneur and writer Jonathan Fields, who tells us that asking ourselves: “What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?” is the type of question that makes us powerless. Instead, Fields says, we should ask these alternate questions. From Fast Company:
What if I fail–how will I recover? Often when we think about failure, Fields says, “we do so in a vague, exaggerated way–we’re afraid to even think about it clearly.” But if before embarking on a high-risk challenge, you visualize what would actually happen if it failed–and what you’d likely have to do to pick up the pieces from that failure–this can help you realize that.
What if I do nothing? The point being, when we take on a major challenge it’s often because we really need to change–and if we don’t go ahead with it, we’re likely to be unhappy staying put. Whatever problem or restlessness already exists may, in fact, get worse. “There is no sideways,” Fields says; if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving back.
The other questions Fields says we should be asking include: What if I succeed? What’s truly worth doing, whether I fail or succeed? And: in this failure, what went right? If you’re faced with a frightening decision today, you need to ask (and answer) these questions.
Get the whole story about why these questions work (and why you shouldn’t always ask “What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?”) right here on Fast Company.