You will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the things that you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Everyone has heard the phrase “fools jump in” at one time or another. I have no idea when it was first said or by whom, but it sounds like something everyone’s Dad has said to their children doesn’t it? I’m pretty sure I heard it from mine. I suppose that in some ways its reasonable advice too. On the other hand, history is littered with individuals, groups and companies who waited, waited, waited… and waited before adopting something new or different. More often than not, that waiting or not recognizing that an opportunity to be seized upon was at hand produced unwanted consequences. There are many examples, but here’s a famous one:
Remember the telegraph? Probably not, but maybe you’ve seen them in the movies. Let’s go back in time to 1876 for just a moment shall we? At that particular time, W.U. Telegraph Company had a monopoly on the telegraph, which was then the world’s most advanced communications technology. If you were getting a telegram at that time, it was the W.U. network transmitting it, receiving it and then delivering it to you. This company was rich and powerful and didn’t really have any competition at all, so when the president of W.U., William Orton was offered the opportunity to buy the patent for a new and really cool communications invention, he sat back in his big padded chair and had himself a big laugh. These nuts were asking for $100,000! Full of amused indignation, Orton wrote a letter to the inventor.
“Mr. Bell, after careful consideration of your invention, while it is a very interesting novelty, we have come to the conclusion that it has no commercial possibilities… What use could this company make of an electrical toy?”
You know how this story turns out don’t you? The young inventor was Alexander Graham Bell. When his proposal was rejected by W.U.’s’s William Orton, he decided to keep the patent and find investors to help bring it to the market. Within a few short years, his American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) had become the largest corporation in the United States. The Bell patent that was offered to Orton for a measly $100,000 became the single most valuable patent in history. Orton realized his mistake almost immediately, as he watched Bell and his investors begin to develop and expand the technology. He attempted to block Bell’s patent over the next few years, and play catch up at the same time, but the game was already lost. He’d simply missed the opportunity.
Sometimes people simply miss the clues that signal a coming change. It happens.Change can be upon us in an instant. More often than that though, people just find reasons to wait, to delay, to stall, to explain why it would be foolish to jump in! Even if something seems beneficial or will clearly improve on an outdated method or product, careful cautiousness often rules the day. Its fear of change, not being comfortable with a new process, anything that gets that old advice kicking in: “Let’s just wait and see how this pans out before doing anything hasty.”
I submit to you that this is no decent way to live! While we must exercise common sense, we need not be locked behind the door of “caution.” Seize the opportunities that show up in your life. Always maintain an open mind. Be curious about new things, not fearful. Life is ever changing, always flowing. The only variable is your ability to accept change or to resist change. Why not float downstream and enjoy the ride instead of paddling against the current? Jump In!