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What's The Worse That Can Happen? (Day 27)

This is a very crazy question to ask, one that most people may fear to ask.

I listen to a lot of podcasts and on my list is TimFerris Podcast. I remember him posing a question of, “what’s the worst that can happen” and what he did to over come his fears. He gave a talk years ago at Google IO Ignite and you can view that here.

He says to define your fears instead of your goals.

To take time and practice Negative Visualization; which is by defining in excruciating detail the worst case scenario. Then you want to define all the terrible things that would happen if you did what you were considering. Next you want to list all the things you can do to minimize the likely hood of those things happening and in the last column – line by line actions you can take to get back to where you were.

On a scale of one to ten whats the scale of pain and change that can happen?

It’s also mentioned to practice rehearsing the worst case scenario: putting yourself in that situation and asking yourself is this the condition I feared?  To be able to understand that most of the things you fear are undervaluing the things that are easily obtainable.

I feared drowning and I kept playing that over and over again, so I signed up for a swim class. I fear losing my mom, so I am doing all that I can to better my health and encourage her in the process. I fear getting fired – don’t ask why – but I continue to educate myself and practice what I’d like to continue to do – design work.

I have researched some of the suggested reading and realize it will take some time to get through and dissect it.

I do believe some of the core principles of stoicism are applicable today. Here is the breakdown of the four principles. I’m not too sure that I agree with all of it.

Asking a challenging question as such as what’s the worst that can happen forces you to really process and think about your fears.

Tim Ferris shares his process here.

Curious to do the exercise?

  • In the first column, write down all of the things that could go wrong should your attempt fail. Think of the most terrible things possible.
  • In the second column, determine ways that you can mitigate the possibility of each of those bad consequences from happening.
  • In the third column, think of how you would recover from each of the scenarios you imagined and wrote in the first column.
  • What are the outcomes and benefits of more likely scenarios?
  • What is it costing you, financially and emotionally, to postpone action?

I’ve made an excel sheet via google docs and you can use this tool to challenge your own fears.

Epictetus said:

“If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid”.


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