Congratulations to the class of 2020. This is the point where I’m supposed to project calm and confidence, and reassure you that everything you’re experiencing right now will be a tiny footnote in the life you’ve imagined for yourself. But I would be lying. The last thing you need is someone else trying to sell you certainty in these uncomfortably fluid times.
But the uncertainty shouldn’t make you panic or heighten your anxiety. Instead, it should infuse you with endless bravado. For those who strive to be more than average, discomfort is a source of strength.
“Failure doesn’t exist,” the Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant told me when I sat down with him in 2015.“Seriously, what does failure mean? It doesn’t exist. It’s a figment of your imagination.”
“Why do I feel,” I asked, “like you just pulled a Jedi mind trick on me?”
Everybody wants a happy ending. Now let’s go to the reality of it. Let’s look at Snow White. She gets a happy ending. She finds Prince Whatever. She goes on, she lives happily ever after. Well, I call bullshit on that. Two months later, the fact is, they had an argument and he’s sleeping on the couch.
The point is, the story continues. If you fail on Monday, the only way it’s a failure on Monday is if you decide not to progress from that. That’s why failure is nonexistent. If I fail today, then I’m going to try again on Tuesday.
Bryant was right: Fear does not grant you permission to wallow, to fold, to buckle, to flounder, or to be disillusioned. Uncertainty is just opportunity that’s been marinating in anxiety.