Worst-Case Scenario

There’s no better way to start this story other than to say, I might become an NFL player.

About two years ago, due to some changes over the last few seasons, many NFL teams began missing field goals and extra point opportunities. Like any other fan, watching from the safe distance of his/her couch, I exclaimed “I should try out to be a kicker for the Chicago Bears.” I laughed it off, imagining how fun it would be to play professional football, but ultimately I forgot.

Life got busy and time went on. Although, this summer I was reminded of this joke all over again. And again, I laughed. It’s funny to think of me, someone who has absolutely no experience as a football kicker, trying out for a professional team.

One day, I sat at my desk and I thought to myself, I’m going to email the Chicago Bears and ask for a tryout. There is absolutely nothing stopping me.

There is a moment in life when a silly idea starts to manifest into reality. Where a joke begins to take root in reality. It’s a truly startling realization.

I composed a somewhat lengthy email and sent it to the only email address that I could find. I will save you the time and just share with you the highlights:

“To whoever is reading this, the Bears have nothing to lose. You can gain plenty of PR for helping a regular guy ‘achieve his dreams.’ Ultimately that’s what I’m asking for, a tryout. That’s it. I just want to get close to living out my dream… Thank you for your consideration. I’ll help you get your well deserved Super Bowl victory.”

This is merely one of the five paragraphs contained within the email. I hit send and stepped away from the computer, letting the internet do its thing. It was no more than 30 minutes before I received a reply.

In short, they said “No”. And they encouraged me and offered me luck with my “Football career.” I sat there for a moment before I laughed even harder because I had an even grander idea. What’s stopping me from emailing every team in the league?

So that’s what I did.

With a few exceptions of teams who’s email address was impossible to find, I took my original email and changed the name to match, and asked for a tryout. And before long I had received several replies, some echoing what’s the Bears had said, “thank you, but no thank you.”

Although the craziest part was that two teams wrote me back and said they would be interested in seeing my film, in which case they would send it to their scouting department. Crazy, right? I tell you this long story to make a point.

Often times we live in a state of fear over potential rejection or failure. We avoid certain situations because we don’t think we can handle it. We don’t apply for the job because we reason that there are more qualified applicants. We don’t go on the date because they might not like us, and that’s if we even get that far. Many times fear will keep us from even talking to the person we like. We don’t seek further education because we believe the lie that we’re stupid. We never write the book, because so many books have been written. We don’t ask for the raise because we think the boss will shut it down. We don’t email the NFL because we have no prior experience. We don’t try whatever it is we think may be impossible, because we might not have what it takes. On and on the reasoning goes.

Although, with all of these examples the question must be raised, “What’s the worst-case scenario?”

I remember, when I was in high school applying for a job at Chick-Fil-A and being so nervous for the interview. While on a walk with my dad, I explained how terribly anxious I was for application process. My dad asked me, “Well what’s the worst-case scenario? What would happen if the interview went as poorly as you think?” I went on to explain the depth of embarrassment I would feel if I blew the interview. He looked at me with a slight grin, “Embarrassment? You’ll be okay then. You’ll still have your health, family, friends. You’ll be fine.”

That wasn’t helpful to my 17-year-old self.

The next day I went and interviewed, and all of my anxieties came true. I bombed the interview. It was terrible. I think I am the only human alive who Chick-Fil-A wouldn’t hire. Well actually, they said they had filled all of their positions at that time and would call me the next time they were looking to hire. What do you think the statute of limitations are on jobs? It’s been about nine years? I’m beginning to think they’ll never call. 

All joking aside, asking the “worst-case scenario” question allows us to assess the risk/reward of a situation. This allows us to make an educated choice whether the worst-case is worth the risk.

For example, emailing the NFL has a low risk. The worst thing that could happen was that they would say “no”, which several did. Who cares? Talking to the person we have a crush on, asking them out, going on a date, what’s the worst that happens? They turn us down? Does that actually matter too much? What if we apply for the job and don’t get it? Then we apply another job. You start to see my point.

Assessing the situation has actually become a sort of therapy for me. It is a way for me to calm my often over-anxious mind, because it allows me to logically work through the situation at hand, as well as what led me to it.

Assessing the risk and reward is something everyone does from an early age. For example, when a parent says to a young child not to do something, that child is then left to decide whether they will obey/comply or if they will disobey. This decision is made as the child weighs the options of obedience versus disobedience. For my brother, David, he often thought the risk of punishment was worth the disobedience. For me, I often reside in the camp of obedience. 

This is easy to observe in a child but think about laws and legislation. Why do we wear our seatbelts? Because if we don’t we run the increased risk of death in the case of an accident, and we also chance a substantial fine. Another good example would be cigarettes.

The Surgeon General has a warning label on all packages of cigarettes, and there are television advertisements to express the potential health concerns directly connected to smoking, such as lung cancer, mouth cancer, emphysema, and so on. They do all of this to raise awareness and help aide in making a decision. They are giving you facts that help us weigh our options. This is all a form of assessment. 

We even do this in regard to our relationships. Think about why we pause and ponder before we rock the boat in our friendships. We are wondering, “Is this worth the inconvenience and disruption of a potential fight?” Or think of why one might not express feelings to an individual they like; “What if they reject me? What if this ruins our friendship? What if I make a fool out of myself?”

So why is this important? When we ask ourselves the worst-case scenario question we anchor ourselves to reality. Far too often we allow our fears to keep us from stepping out of our comfort zone. When we consider the worst possible situation we deprive our fear of its control, and we are free to actually live.

Now there are times where are fears may serve as a warning sign, a red flag to potential danger. There are times we must listen to the voice inside our heads encouraging us to show caution. Although in many situations we face everyday, our fear is nothing more than unchecked anxiety, left to run amuck.

So back to the NFL story. What’s the next step? I’m going to film a video of me attempting to kick a field goal, for the very same reason I emailed the NFL in the first place. The worst thing that they can tell me is “No”, while the best case is life changing. Why wouldn’t I try.

There is so much life that is waiting to be lived, while we remain fearful in our comfort zones.

Ask yourself, “What’s the worst-case scenario?” Assess the risk of your dreams. Is it worth it? Then attempt the impossible. Share your talents. Talk to your crush. Apply for the job. Go back to school. Learn something new. Pray a new prayer. Give love another shot. Be free from the fear of failure and rejection that very well may imprison you, and try again.

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