If you knew you couldn’t fail

by Rebecca Bricker on February 23, 2012

I was having coffee recently with my friend Roland, who saw me through the trauma of selling my house in the summer of 2008, at the start of the mortgage crisis. He and his then-partner Roark were my real estate brokers.

It was a nail-biting ride as they steered me through the crashing market that summer. Escrow closed on Friday, September 11 – a dreadful closing date, I remember thinking at the time. The following Monday, Lehman Brothers collapsed and economic hell broke loose. On Wednesday of that week, I was on a plane to Rome, feeling like I had escaped by the skin of my clenched teeth.

I wandered around Italy for a month, trying to decompress. And at every cathedral I visited, I lit a candle of gratitude for Roland and Roark. A new chapter of my life had begun. Adventure awaited me.

So when Roland and I were talking recently about where my writer’s journey will take me next, he was stunned when he sensed my angst and uncertainty.

“You’re kidding me,” he said. “Selling your house and moving to Italy took real courage. There’s nothing you can’t do. Block out your fears. Ignore the naysayers.”

And then he said something that gave me pause: “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”

It’s a wonderful question to ask yourself. If you knew you couldn’t fail…what you would you DARE to do? What dream would you make happen?













Dan Blank February 23, 2012 at 5:52 pm

This is a great question. My friend Jenny Blake described a similar chat with a friend, and a similar question posed to her. This is before she decided to quit her job at Google to pursue her real passion.

For myself, in the past couple of years, I left the cozy corporate world with it’s steady paycheck, had our first kid, my wife quit her job, and I started a business. This is my time to build something of meaning. And few things of meaning are built without risk.



Rebecca Bricker February 23, 2012 at 6:23 pm

So true, Dan – “few things of meaning are built without risk.” I admire your spirit and the big jump you’ve made!

Pat February 24, 2012 at 6:19 am

What a great question and your friend Roland is absolutely right. As someone who left everything behind in pursuit of dream and has juggled the challenges of living abroad for years, I am amazed at the courage it took for you to sell the house & start over in Italy. When I left the States, I was only 22…so I had very little baggage to leave behind…and the safety net of entire French basketball team to welcome me into la belle vie francaise!

Rebecca Bricker February 24, 2012 at 12:02 pm

I know you can relate, Pat. It’s always good to have a “team” to cheer you on!

Sarah McKee February 24, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Is there something that I want to do, as to which fear of failure is stopping me? Won’t try to answer that one. Living with it for a while might however be interesting. Thanks, Becky, to you and to your friends for raising it!

Rebecca Bricker February 24, 2012 at 1:51 pm

With all your accomplishments, Sally, it doesn’t seem to me that fear of failure gets in your way – at least not for long!

Roland Wilhelm February 24, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Alright Rebecca, where IS your writing journey going to take you next? Thanks for the lovely post!

Rebecca Bricker February 24, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Oh, Roland, I thought you might ask. Italy has a magnetic pull on me, as we know… 😉 Thanks, dear friend, for all your encouragement and support!

Thom Parrott-Sheffer February 25, 2012 at 4:28 pm

See your goal and work back to where you are; seeing each step that lies between where you are and where you want to be, then take the steps. I, for one, am in awe of your courage and spirit. It helps me strive. Here at 58 I have decided to move into a different world, away from the safety nets of a church. I am pursuing my heart for work in public advocacy and organizing. I know that hearing your story has helped me find my courage. I have also discovered my so called “failures” have been the greatest sources of personal and spiritual achievement. Wherever you go, you will find a story — keep writing and sharing them, they make a difference.

Rebecca Bricker February 26, 2012 at 12:57 am

Thom, I am really touched that you feel inspired to follow your heart. The world needs your (com)passion and talents. Be bold. I see you taking the stage for a terrific third act. BRAVO!

Thanks for the advice about plotting the steps backwards from the goal. (Working a maze from the end is always easier than from the start. Why is that??) And thanks for encouraging me to keep doing what I love.

Colleen Davis March 11, 2012 at 7:19 pm

When you were maneuvering your rapids and the banks were failing, news coverage shifted from a hurricane bearing down on the Texas coast. Hurricane Ike tore through the upper gulf coast. I can barely talk about it still. We lost the little bay cabin that we had bought with the money from my mom’s estate. How else could 2 teachers afford a vacation home? It was literally scraped away and only the concrete slab was left.

There was not enough money to rebuild. I was sick and angry and bitter, still am, in fact. But this is what I’ve done. I’m taking some of the insurance money and going to Italy, by myself, to live in a town where I lived as a teenager, to the place where I first fell in love, to a place where there are four seasons, and forests, and mountains. I am going to be on my own for the first time, even if it is only for 3 months.

Kathy April 3, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Please let us know how it goes. My dream is to live in Italy again as I did as a teenager too.

Rebecca Bricker March 11, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Brava, Colleen! I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. But clearly your spirit of adventure is intact. I hope you’ll write/blog about your experience. What a poignant journey this will be. Enjoy every day of it!

Kathy April 3, 2012 at 6:17 pm

I have goose bumps reading these conversations… how magnificent the human spirit is. Go for it!
Do not keep the music inside…
I started painting again after years away from it. I rearranged my life and work and can’t express the happiness, joy and exaltation I feel with brush in hand and paint on paper or canvas.
That and being in Italy with family or good new friends make me the happiest.
Love the beauty in each of your writings.

Rebecca Bricker April 3, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Thank you, Kathy…you’re such an inspiration. I look forward to seeing more of your artwork next time we meet. There is no greater joy than doing what you love and being with those you love. I’m so glad I met you in my wanderings that fall in Italy. :)

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