I'm still an avid soccer player although I'm well past my prime. One difference that has become obvious to me over the years between those who make goals and those who never do is the willingness to take a shot. It's the same difference between those who are wildly successful in life and those who merely show up.
You Will Never Fully Eliminate Risk. Take Your Shot Anyway!
Successful people like successful soccer players understand that you will never fully eliminate risk. They know that to make goals, you have to take your shot, knowing full well that you're likely to miss. I'm far from the best player on the field. In fact, I'd put myself towards the bottom of our team as far as raw ability and athleticism. Well into my 40s; I don't see that changing any time soon either.
Even though I'm nowhere near as good as many of the other players on the field, I have rarely gone a week this year without making a goal during our games. The only reason I'm able to get the ball in the net consistently is that I take the shot. I miss much more often than I make it, but I take the shot because I know the only guaranteed way to walk away from a game without scoring is to fail to take shots in the first place.
If you want to win on the field or in life, you have to take your shots when good opportunities present themselves.
Ask the girl or guy out.
Take the course.
Ask for the raise.
Have difficult conversations.
Start the business.
Accept that you're likely to fail when you take your shot, but take it anyway. The only guaranteed way to fail to score is to not take the shot in the first place. You might not have the greatest odds when you try, but at least it's better than certain failure by not taking a shot.
Make Your Move, but Don’t Take Wild Shots
There's more to successfully achieving your goals than just taking wild random shots. If the goal is unguarded, you can take a “Hail Mary” shot from half-court. I scored two goals this weekend doing that when the keeper moved up, thinking no one would be crazy enough to take that shot. I threw the ball away a few times that way too. So it's worth trying, but most of the time, you're wasting your time by not moving the ball down the court first.
The key to success is to quickly settle the ball and then move it towards the goal. It's the same with life; short, safe passes followed by taking a shot once you're close to the goal is what wins games. You don't need to take wild risks to advance, but you do need to be willing to take some risk.
Don't Wait Too Long
Whatever you do, don't wait too long to make your move. Soccer is a game where milliseconds matter. Either you make a move, or someone else will take the ball and run away with it. Life is that way, too; if you wait too long to make a decision, you'll miss your opportunity. Contrary to popular opinion, some dreams have deadlines as well.
In life or soccer, pause just long enough to get the ball under control, determine where you want to go, then move. Once you're near the goal, take the shot. If you miss, shake it off, and do it again. That's how you win.