If you don’t start, you can’t fail.
This post presents a philosophical idea inspired by the text of today’s Daf. The Daf is one page in the Talmud that tens of thousands of people study each day. I explain the connection to the text in a comment below. My purpose is to show that there are underlying philosophical assumptions in the Talmud that can have great significance for anybody today trying to understand our complex reality.
The adage, ‘You can’t succeed if you don’t try,’ holds true, but it’s also important to consider its counterpart: ‘If you don’t start, you can’t fail.’
The phrase, ‘If you don’t start, you can’t fail,’ can be interpreted in two ways. On one hand, it serves as a cautionary reminder to avoid endeavors that will likely result in failure. On the other hand, it can be understood ironically as a motivational message that suggests attempting and failing is preferable to never having attempted at all. Both perspectives hold value.
Failure can come at a high cost. Before embarking on a new project, it’s crucial to carefully consider the potential for failure and its associated consequences. Firstly, failure can have serious psychological impacts that shouldn’t be underestimated. For significant ventures, disappointment can go beyond temporary pain and have lasting effects on one’s self-esteem that may persist for an extended period. Despite feeling confident in your ability to handle failure, it’s important to remember that the human mind is intricately complex, with some mental processes operating beyond conscious awareness.
In addition to the psychological consequences, pursuing a project also involves opportunity costs. The time and effort invested in one project means that these resources cannot be directed towards other opportunities. For instance, choosing a specific field of study in school or a career path comes with the trade-off of giving up other options, or delaying them significantly. In the workplace, resources allocated to one goal means less resources available for others. It’s also important to be aware of the human tendency to persist in a project, even when it demands more time and effort than originally anticipated. This persistence can be a valuable trait when it helps you overcome temporary setbacks, but like anything else, it can also be taken to an extreme.
Lastly, it’s worth considering that many projects involve more than just one individual and exist within a group context. When you decide to pursue a goal, there may be a clear or implicit commitment to succeed. Failure can not only disappoint yourself but also others who were counting on you to fulfill that promise or who may have attempted it themselves if you hadn’t taken it on. In some cases, failure can equate to breaking your word, even if it’s not entirely your responsibility.
On the flip side, the fear of failure can be debilitating. The apprehension of not succeeding, losing out on other opportunities, or letting down those around you can hinder your progress and prevent you from reaching your full potential. At its worst, it can result in total inability to function, but even moderate fear of failure can lead to a life filled with less fulfilling and impactful pursuits for both you and the world.
The solution lies in finding a balance. Set achievable and realistic goals that challenge you, yet are meaningful. Ideally, your goals should have a realistic chance of success while still allowing for limitless potential for even greater accomplishments.
submitted by /u/eliyah23rd