The Opportunity Cost of Not Showing Up

The Opportunity Cost of Not Showing Up

You have the potential to lose so much more if you never take a chance.

I left the “security” of the 9-5 world back in 2007. At that time I was three years out of college, had a good job (by other people’s standards), but found myself very unhappy. The people I worked with were fine. The work I was doing was fine. Everything was pretty much fine.

But I didn’t want fine.

In 2007 I took the leap from a normal job to co-found my first company. How I eventually talked myself into leaping came after answering a few questions:

If I stayed at the 9-5 job, what was the best case scenario?

I’d climb the fickle corporate ladder. I’d see incremental financial increases. Different words would be embossed on my business cards (which only meant more responsibility and stress). I’d probably never be truly happy.

If I stayed at the 9-5 job, what was the worst case scenario?

I’d either work there for the next 50 years and be miserable or at some point I’d get let go, I’d have no income, I’d be scared, and I’d find some other mediocre 9-5 job. I’d definitely be unhappy.

If I left the 9-5 job, what was the best case scenario?

I’d be my own boss. I’d call my own shots. I’d reap the rewards of all the hard work. My financial success would only be limited by my ideas, work ethic, and ability to sell something great. I’d also never have to commute to work, put on pants in the morning, or sit through absolutely mundane meetings. I’d be happy!

If I left the 9-5 job, what was the worst case scenario?

My new business venture would fail and I’d have no income, I’d be scared, and I’d find some other way to make money (doomsday scenario: find some other mediocre 9-5 job). I’d probably be unhappy, but I’d learn a crap-ton from the experience.

What I realized once I answered these questions was that I had so much more to lose by staying at the 9-5 job. Yeah, there are a ton of other factors and details that could arise, but the overarching worst case scenarios were nearly identical. I’d be a fool to NOT try to start my own business and see where that journey would take me.

By staying in that secure job, not only was I sitting on a ticking time bomb of unhappiness, but I was also ignoring my potential. I could be the next Bill Gates. I could be the next Steve Jobs. Hell, I could even strive to be the next Evan Spiegel (the way that kid turned down billions is inspiring, but that’s for another post).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m a software genius, product marketer extraordinaire, or the creator of the next huge app. What I’m saying is that the potential for those things is in each of us. If we never give ourselves a chance to unleash those creative things, that’s a bigger potential loss than what might happen if you try and fail. I’d so much rather be trying to do things that give me unbridled financial freedom and happiness than staying somewhere “secure” and miserable.

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”  — Wayne Gretzky

It’s cliche, but it’s so damn true. If you don’t take the shots, you don’t stand a chance at achieving so much more in life. If you do take the shots, you’ll probably miss a bunch of times, but a couple of those makes will be so gratifying in so many different ways.