Last week I heard from three different people on three separate occasions about how they had a great idea but missed the boat. "I had the idea for Groupon five years ago", a friend claimed. "I could'a been the one to land that big promotion, but I never shared my ideas with the boss", another bemoaned.
Regret is the worst human emotion since there isn't a damn thing we can do about the past. Missed opportunity can haunt us for years and can weigh down our hearts like an anchor of forged steel. "If I had only ... " has nothing to do with talent; it is simply the result of a previous lack of courage.
Most people overestimate the risk of following their dreams, yet underestimate the risk of not seizing the opportunity. This applies to business and family. Invention and politics. Life and love.
Many of us are consumed with all the things we should'a done, could'a done, or would'a done. We make excuses why we never stepped up and took a stand. We cast blame on circumstance and other people while the world simply passes us by.
The next time you have that big idea, follow your passion instead of your fear. Boldness and courage have a special power to crush the demons and liberate your creative potential.
Don't let imaginary barriers hold you back from seizing the things you want most in your life. And even if you stumble along the way, you'll do so with strength and purpose. Reminds me of the famous quote from Alfred Lord Tennyson, "Tis better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all."
Don't relegate yourself to the cold masses of timid souls that long for a better future but cower instead of act. Those people—the should'a could'a would'a folks—are not you. You are destined to leave an indelible mark on the world, as long as you have the guts to make it happen. You'll never know what you are truly capable of until you unshackle your passion and give yourself permission to create.
When you look back on it all during your final days, I doubt you'll wish you took fewer risks. What will matter is that you lived fully, followed your heart, and seized your full potential. When I get to the end, I hope I'll have more battle scars and fewer regrets.
Have the courage and conviction to go for the things you really want. Stop settling and start doing. Seize the day, and never, never, ever be a should'a, could'a, would'a.
For more ideas on creativity, innovation, and leadership visit my blog at www.JoshLinkner.com.