Mini-interview with Daniel Pink
On regrets & fear of failure
Recently, I have approached several magnificent persons who have inspired me in my journey to where I am today. I have asked them to answer three questions to continue to inspire me and fellow millennials. Here is my mini-interview with Daniel Pink, author of WHEN: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing (danpink.com/books/when, and other books):
What event changed your life around your 30s and how?
I stopped working for organizations and began working for myself - something I continue to do today.
What was the lesson you have learned with this?
Your 30s are the ideal time to take sensible risks - not crazy, insane risks, but calculated ones.
What is the message you want to give millennials now?
What people regret later in life are usually errors of omission (what they didn't do) rather than errors of commission (what they did do).
I want to thank Daniel for taking some of his precious time to answer these questions and making me think about regretting things I did not do. Here is my view on his wise words.
What is it about our fear of failure?
I believe the reason why we regret the things we didn't do in life is connected with our fear of failure. Fear of doing something wrong is a powerful motive coming from our primal instinct. Now we live in times where 90% of our actions do not depend on life and death anymore. Yet, we are still afraid to do things wrong. Why? I think because we hate the feeling of rejection. Have you ever been laughed at or bullied by somebody? Then you understand how it feels to be socially rejected. Often we're (implicitly) afraid that our actions do not result in what we think others expect from us. This feeling decides if you should leave your high paid job to become a barista, if you should convert to another religion, if you should get a divorce after one year of marriage. In the eyes of others, your choices might seem as a failure. But ask yourself what does success look like then? When are you successful?
Making mistakes in 21st century
In my opinion, overcoming fear and making mistakes equals personal growth. Nowadays, we will not get burnt at the stake for not following the beaten path anymore. However, making mistakes in this era can push our lives in a downward spiral in a split second. We all have had that one drink too many, right? It used to be only known to the people that were there with you and that story would only reach your friends and family. Unfortunately, now with YouTube, Facebook and other social media you could get scarred for life. That drink has taught you what your alcohol limit is, which is a good thing, but your future employer does not see it that way. Or worse, your video will go viral and will limit your chances to work anywhere.
These days, the workplace does not always make it easy to learn from our failures either. With more people on the job market, you can get easily replaced when you accidentally send a 'reply to all'. Don't forget about the misuse of the right to give our opinion on anything. Post one photo of yourself where you were too eager using those tweezers and you'll likely get comments as 'I wouldn't date you if you were the last person on earth'. Each day perfect selfies of people with perfect bodies and perfect careers appear on Instagram. The world evolves on our appearances, how we come across and preferably on how you made it before you reach 25. We don't want to lose our jobs, our reputation nor our friends. That leaves us in a position where we're often too afraid to take a chance, forever stuck in our thoughts with 'what if'-scenarios.
What do you regret not doing?
Fortunately, I have learned early on that taking the chance on people and opportunities only enriches your life. I wouldn't have found my passion and talents if I didn't decide to quit my job and start my own company. It doesn't mean that all my actions turn out to be pleasant. Sometimes it was just plain horrible (don't eat spinach before interviews). Despite the bad outcome I never regret these decisions, because they made me more resistant, stronger and wiser. If you look at any living species on the planet, it is all about growth. What would life be without it? Let's stop worrying about other people's (online) businesses and focus on what you could do to improve yourself. What do you regret not having done in your life earlier?