11 Do Not Live In The Fear Of The Possible

This is the one quote from the Fletchifesto that most people ask me to explain. This is also one of my favorites and probably one of the first quotes I chose to include. Let me see if I can explain it here.

Do Not Live In The Fear Of The Possible!

How many times have you refused to act, because you were fearful of what "might" happen. You know what I mean? Maybe you have said to yourself something like this: "Well...if I do this, then it's possible this thing over here will happen." Without even knowing it, you refuse to act. You are living in the fear of the possible, regardless of the probability of the expected outcome.


It reminds me of a funny, unexpected and eye-opening response that was given to a classmate of mine during my post-graduate studies in dental school. I was sitting in an oral surgery lecture and this poor unsuspecting student happened to raise her hand to ask a tough question about a certain dental procedure. I remember her asking: "Dr. Zimmerman, isn't there a chance that by doing this procedure, the patient might have a negative reaction?" 

Dr. Zimmerman was an old-school, type-A oral surgery instructor. He always had a bright red face that communicated he was angry and when he spoke he had two volumes: loud and very loud. I always pictured that his own dental training had taken place in the military during WWII. From his behavior, it was clear that Dr. Z was from an era when most dental schools did not include female students. (Picture the character of Colonel Jessep played by Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men - he was a dead ringer!). Furthermore, I always felt like I was bothering him with any question I ever asked, so I quickly learned to keep my head down and pretend like I knew what I was doing. My classmate did not learn this lesson.

I'll never forget his response to this poor soul who was basically asking a "What If" type of question. Dr. Zimmerman didn't stop to think, he simply responded, "Is there a chance there might be a negative reaction? Listen to me, little lady. There's a chance you are gonna be hit by a fucking bus every time you step off the fucking curb, but that doesn't keep you from crossing traffic to walk into a fucking donut shop for a fucking cup of coffee every day." Yes. this was professional school. I was shocked too. Everyone who had been sleeping in that lecture suddenly sat up and started taking the best notes they could. Dr. Zimmerman was a piece of work.

Sure it was shocking. Sure it was inappropriate, but here is my basic point: Dr. Zimmerman didn't live in the fear of the possible. He embraced the possible. He embraced risk. I think that's part of the reason why he was such a successful surgeon. That might explain his peppery language too. He was not afraid of what might happen.

I don't want to throw caution to the wind. I believe there is wisdom with multiple counselors, but I also do not want to live crippled by the "what ifs."  I need to face the possibilities, understand the risks, and live a little more fearlessly. What about you?

Quietly making noise,