GLOSS Issue 20 FEB 2015 - Page 71

Fear of Failure In the industrialized world, the world of driveways, parkways, dishwashers, and dumbwaiters, a rational fear for our individual survival isn’t even in the top ten. Wild animals don’t threaten our existence, the diseases that were rampant a century ago do not exist, and crime in our biggest cities is more rare than ever before. So what is there to be afraid of? Failure. legs, you can’t run a marathon. Successful marathon runners haven’t figured out how to avoid being tired, they’ve figured out where to put the tired when it arrives. If you’re not willing to be tired, you cant run. If you’re willing to imagine failure, you’re unable to be free. In just a few generations, we’ve gone from “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” to “The fear we feel is the fear of freedom.” What happened at the Solvay? Our schools, our marketers, and our culture reinforce this fear daily. The heartbreak of psoriasis, the humiliation of underarm odor, but most of all, the utter horror of trying and failing. In 1927, the Solvay congress in Brussels assembled 29 physicists. This photo captures the all-star line-up, titans including Heisenberg*, Einstein, Curie and Bohr. Failure is almost never as bad as we fear it will be, but it’s our fear that we fell, not the failure. Seventeen people in the photo won the Nobel Prize in Physics. Worst of all, we’ve so amplified our internal narrative that we can’t help but associate freedom with failure. *There is some uncertainty as to whether Heisenberg was actually there. And so our fear of failure transfers effortlessly into fear of freedom. The thing: Many of these people won the Nobel Prize after the conference was held. Consider our avoidance of feeling tired. If you’re unwilling to be tired, unwilling to feel fatigue in your They didn’t get invited because they had won the Nobel Prize. They won the Nobel Prize because they got invited. PEOPLE LIKE US DO THINGS LIKE THIS.