That is the question I asked myself a few years ago when my husband and children wanted to ride their bicycles from Alaska to Argentina.
And when I got really honest with myself, I had to admit that, if I wasn’t afraid, I would go with them.
I was afraid that the mountains would be too high, or the headwinds too strong. The cold would be too cold and the hot would be too hot.
But when I was really, really honest with myself, I realized that it wasn’t the high mountains or headwinds that I feared. I was afraid of failure.
In order to avoid the agony of defeat and humiliation of admitting I couldn’t do it, I had convinced myself that it was better not to try at all. If I never set out in the first place, I would never have to crawl back home, defeated.
But then one night I had one of those eureka moments – a moment when I realized just how silly I was being. That night, as I lay in my bed trying to sleep, I realized that if I tried – if I started pedaling – I did face the possibility of defeat. In fact, I figured there was probably a 50/50 chance I would fail.
When I looked at it from that perspective, I realized it made no sense not to try. I might fail – in fact, I had a very good chance of failing. But I might not fail. I might possibly succeed.
The rest, as they say, is history. Together with my husband and children, I flew to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska and we spent the next three years pedaling south.
In the end, I didn’t fail. In the end, I did it. I pedaled 17,000 miles through fifteen countries. But it never would have happened if I wasn’t willing to risk failure.
After spending 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel made the decision to quit her job and live a life less ordinary. Together with her husband and children, she cycled from Alaska to Argentina – a journey of over 17,000 miles through 15 countries. Now, she lives in Idaho, inspiring others to chase their dreams. You can find her at www.familyonbikes.org.