Today, many people associate Groundhog Day with the movie where Bill Murray’s character gets stuck in the small town of Punxsutawney, PA, reliving the same day over and over. After excepting his fate, he selfishly uses it to his advantage but, ultimately, puts his misfortune to use for the good of others. Many articles have been written aligning the movie to business (and life) lessons; getting stuck in a rut, repeatedly making the same mistakes, making the best of a bad situation, learning from the past to positively impact the future, and so on.
However, let’s look at Groundhog Day—the actual day—from a very basic perspective. The legend is simple, the groundhog comes out of his burrow, is frightened by his shadow, and goes back down to his den; 6 more weeks of winter. But what did the groundhog gain by going back underground, besides perhaps more sleep? Conversely, what did it miss out on because it was frightened?
Fear is an interesting emotion, and not fear of spiders or bees which are real, but rather emotional fears that prevent us from taking chances, going outside of our comfort zone, or exploring new possibilities. Babe Ruth said, “Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” If you do not try something, even though it may seem the safe option, you will never know what could have been. You will never have to wonder, “what if?”
I was in a meeting years ago, and someone said, “fail fast.” It has stuck with me. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Assess the opportunity, commit (or not), give it 100%, reassess, pivot if needed, then proceed or abandon. No matter the results, at least in the end you can say you tried.
There is no illusion greater than fear. –Lao Tzu