“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced,” – Vincent Van Gogh I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to people about taking risks, making big decisions and chasing dreams. I’ve found a couple of interesting things. First — there are some people who seem to be naturally more comfortable with risk. I haven’t nailed down what makes them that way, but the risk takers I know just don’t get bogged down with “what ifs” and thoughts of failure. The second thing I’ve realized is that the thing that bothers those who are risk averse is the unknown. I agree that the unknown is scary, but it’s no scarier to me than the thought of not moving forward. I have the pleasure of working with some pretty magnificent people. One person in particular has shared their personal theory about people who do not believe in themselves, and I wholeheartedly agree with them. My friend believes that every decision requires the belief in something unknown. People who believe in following their “gut” or “heart” believe that when they move purposely towards their goal the path will show itself to them. In other words — they choose to believe in hope. Then there are other people who go through life in a state of indecision (or what I affectionately call “analysis paralysis”) — the same people who will give you every excuse why they (or worse, why YOU) won’t be successful. These people don’t believe in their gifts and have often forgotten how to dream — they choose to believe in fear instead of themselves. So, ask yourself right now — which do you choose to believe in? There are people who may think that I am too much of a risk taker and don’t carefully look at all of the details before jumping in. I like to think of myself as an efficient decision maker … Let’s face it — I did not have the “odds” stacked in my favor in terms of success in life. My parents got married my mom’s senior year in high school, got divorced when I was three and my mom had to drop out of college to raise my older sister and I on her own. I got married right out of high school and was divorced by the time my son was two. I could go on about the other circumstances and experiences that could have caused me to feel despair — but they don’t really matter. What matters is that despite circumstance, I chose to believe in hope. I made it through college —often times taking Tyler to class with me — while simultaneously working my way up the corporate ladder. For some reason I have always believed that I could be or do anything I set my mind to. Whether it is an innate part of my DNA or simply bull-headedness, I’ll probably never know. What I do know is that I believe there is no shame in trying — the worst mistake I can ever imagine making is letting statistics or fear decide my fate. I choose to believe in myself and trust that everything will work itself out in the end. So, in this time of resolution I ask you “what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” I don’t know the meaning of life —although it’s something I ponder often. I don’t know what happens when our number comes up. What I do believe is that we have one shot to get it right — one opportunity to leave our mark on the world. What do you want to look back on in your final moments? The best thing I can imagine is to look back without regret. Not too look back at perfection, or wealth or material things, because in the end, I don’t think that is what matters. But to have loved and maybe lost, to have tried and failed, to have laughed and cried and to have experienced life instead of just getting through it … now that is something marvelous. There is a great quote in the movie Cool Runnings that goes “a gold medal is a nice thing — but if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.” Ultimately, we each go through this journey called life alone. Sure, we may be in the company of others from time-to-time, but it is our choice alone to make sure we are “enough.” Others may believe in us, our capabilities, our worthiness and ability to achieve greatness, but it is what we believe that really matters. You must find a way to believe in yourself — to take the most important and perhaps scariest risk of all — to put all of your chips in on hope.
Shelley Davis Mielock
Shelley Davis Mielock is a certified business image coach and the founder of Mieshel Image Consulting, a Lansing-based firm that specializes in image development for individuals and businesses. She is also a co-host of In Her Shoes, a a weekly women’s talk radio show. To ask Shelley an image question, please e-mail her.