Are You Standing Outside the Fire?

Garth Brooks’s hit song, “Standing Outside the Fire” asks a provocative question for those of us interested in disruptive innovation. Deep down, we need to know, “How willing are we to be burned? Are we willing to take the ultimate risk?”

In this article, we will challenge our assumptions about success so we can wisely accept the best opportunities. We will ask, “As a leader, are you standing outside the fire? Or are you willing to take the risk and attempt the disruptive innovation?”

You may want to read the previous post, “How much risk you are willing to take.”

Those that follow me know that I’m passionate about disruptive thinking, incredible opportunities and doing what we never thought possible. Today’s world is filled with phenomenal opportunities to do something seemingly impossible and to live our dreams. Unfortunately, most are content playing it safe.

That frustrates me. I hope it frustrates you to the point of taking that bold move and become a disruptive leader.


Take a minute and read the lyrics of Garth Brook’s hit song.

He begins by challenging our assumptions. “We call them cool” who are unscarred. The lyrics address the assumption that many make in life – that the most desirable outcome is when we are left unscarred. We assume that those who are the most successful avoided the fire and the failure. They remained safe and comfortable when others were scarred by defeat.

But even worse, many ridicule those with the scars as being reckless in their planning or execution. Surely, they reason, if that scarred person was smarter or more responsible they wouldn’t have failed.

Those assumptions are wrong.


Entrepreneurs know that failure is part of success. Ask any successful startup and they will quickly tell you that it never goes according to plan. They fail many times, not because they were fools but because they were tough.

Each of those setbacks is not really a failure, not a hideous scar but rather a lesson learned. Therefore, every scar is a valuable lesson that leads to our ultimate success. So to avoid a scar is to avoid learning and letting a great opportunity slip away.

Knowing that toughens us up. Just like developing a callous or building a muscle. The repetition is critical to our ultimate success.

But there is also one very important aspect.

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We display incredible strength and stamina when we are consumed by desire. We will do phenomenal things when we want it bad enough.

How badly do we want to make the disruption?

We won’t make the effort if we don’t care enough to take the risk. Apathy never leads to disruptive innovation. But when we are tough because we are consumed by desire, the impossible becomes our reality. We don’t play it safe. That’s why we get burned and have scars. But it is worth the pain.

I appreciate the way Napoleon Hill explained desire in his classic book, “Think and Grow Rich.” “It was a keen, pulsating desire, which transcended everything else.”


We can all relate to the early days of romance and love where we didn’t know if our intentions would be rejected or not. Our chests were pounding and our minds racing as we contemplated showing our interest. It felt like our hearts were going to explode. No matter what the costs, we knew we would forever regret it if we did not try.

Looking back, wasn’t it worth the risk?


The desire to disrupt and innovate is the same way. We can’t stand outside the fire. We cannot play it safe because we would regret missing the opportunity.

You see, the real failure isn’t being burned, suffering a setback or going broke. The most regrettable action we can take is being passive, watching others enter the fire. We all get burned unless we are nowhere near the fire. As he sings, “life is not tried, it is merely survived if you’re standing outside the fire.”

Are you living or just surviving?

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We all ask the same questions when facing a big challenge.

  • What if I fail?
  • What will I do then?
  • What will others think?

Many never start because they are worried about what they will do IF it doesn’t work. Isn’t that a rather negative and silly question? Instead, ask the following four questions.

  • How good is this opportunity?
  • How much do I want this success?
  • How hard am I willing to work?
  • What will I regret if I never try?



Loren Murfield, Ph.D.


I work with leaders and organizations to think bigger and reach higher to find breakthrough success. This is a process that I can help you learn. One of the ways I help clients is by guiding them through my Disruptive Opportunity Challenge.  Begin the process today by contacting me.

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