Once upon a time, believe it or not, future White House fellow and new Cancer Treatment Centers of America CEO Pat Basu (BS '00, mechanical engineering) had a serious fear of failure.
“During my sophomore year of high school, in the conference championship, I faked an injury because what if we lost? During my junior year, I didn´t ask out the girl I liked because what if she said no? My senior year, I didn´t run for class president because what if I didn´t get it?
“But somewhere during my freshman year on this beautiful campus, I began to tell myself: Never again would I not do something because I was afraid to fail. When I finally started to put my guts on the line, things worked out far better than I expected.
“On a fun note, after losing my Illini ID card at the Six Pack dorms, I stumbled into the new card office at Garner Hall and saw this beautiful woman behind the desk. While I still hadn´t developed the courage to straight up ask her out on a date, I barely, just barely managed to slip her a note asking her out before literally sprinting off down the tunnel back toward Weston Hall.
“Although she turned out to be a 24-year-old graduate student — gulp — she was kind enough to let this wide-eyed freshman take her out on a date, which did wonders for my confidence. A few weeks later, galvanized by my newfound charm, I didn´t fake an injury and helped our intramural basketball team win the campus championship on the floor of hallowed Assembly Hall
“And on a much more substantive note, on a campus of 30,000 students I mustered the courage to run for student senate in a campus-wide election, to apply to student alumni ambassadors and to make the homecoming court in a rigorous selection.
“So, the next time you fear failure, ask yourself, what´s the worst that can happen? The answer is never as bad as you think it is.”