Verbatim Column

What would you attempt if you knew you couldn’t fail?

One of my friends says her late husband lived in a world of magical thinking. That may have its own set of rewards and risks. In the world of reality, how far could we imagine ourselves stretching if the risk of failure was not on the table. It seemed that this month’s question would be an interesting one to consider.

The VERBATIM column poses open-ended questions to industry colleagues. Taken from a familiar “Heard on the Street” format, we offer our responders a chance to reply via e-mail. What is presented below are their personal thoughts in response to the question posed above. They appear in the order received.



Great question. If you knew you couldn’t fail it would take a lot of fun out of attempting most anything. If you go about life attempting things through the lens of learning and development, then do you ever really fail?

But, if I had to pick something I suppose it would be skydiving.

Jim Zuck

Marshall Excelsior Company

Marshall, Mich.


The thought of pursuing something in life without any chance of failure may be appealing to some. If there were such a reality, would we have achieved so much in our country, our professional and personal lives? We might have a many more butterfly therapists in the world, but would that be world we would want to live in? I suspect not.

The element of risk drives diligence in planning and execution of the pursuit. The greater the risk the greater the success/reward. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Boyd H. McGathey

Energy Distribution Partners

Parkville, Mo.


I would backpack the John Muir Trail, The Colorado Trail, from the top of the Grand Canyon in Utah to the bottom in Mexico, and the Appalachian Trail all back to back. I have always loved the outdoors and backpacking. When I was younger those were on my bucket list, but age is catching up to me so that goal is probably out of reach now.

Brad Duncan

Allaround Propane, Inc.

Fruitland, N. M.


I would love to be able to do something that would save someone’s life.  A few years ago my daughter donated a kidney to her cousin.  She never hesitated after making the offer and finding she was compatible, even though she and her husband had three young children at home and was working as a Special Education Coordinator.   Not only did her sacrifice save my nephew’s life, but it was such a rewarding experience for everyone involved.  She was an inspiration to me, and I wish that I could do something so wonderful for someone!

Rosie Buschur

McMahan’s Bottle Gas

Dayton, Ohio


So, my first off-the-cuff impulse was to say I would run out and buy a lottery ticket – then maybe go hang gliding.  Somehow those did not feel like the correct answer for me.

As I thought about this question, really thought about it, here’s my final answer…… My “No Fail Wish” would be to serve God.  10 years ago I walked away from Him but through his grace and a broken but blessed path back I find myself wanting a closer relationship with Him.  Crazy, maybe, but I’ll keep you all in my prayers J

Judy Taranovich

Proctor Gas

Proctor, Vt.


If failure was not possible, what would be worth doing? How much effort would be needed to achieve it? Fear of failure is a great motivator, whether the outcome affects others or only me.

Bruce Swiecicki

National Propane Gas Association (NPGA)

Tinley Park, Ill.


I would get back into flipping houses.  I started a company in early 2000 called InSide-Out where I purchased and resold property before the real estate bubble burst in 2007.  If someone would have told me before 2007 that purchasing real estate would have consequences, I would have thought they lived in a bubble!  If I knew 100% I would not fail, I would definitely get back into this. The short term investment both financially and personally offers such a generous reward, not to mention the satisfaction which comes from tapping into my passion to decorate.

Hayley Karicofe


Churchville, Va.


I would jump out of an airplane (with a parachute) and acquire as many businesses as I could each year!

Laurie Irish-Jones

Irish Propane

Buffalo, N. Y.


I believe anything that doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. I have the injuries to prove it from when I tried to teach myself how to jump hills on my dirt bike. Since that injury I haven’t had the courage to attempt it again. If I knew that I could make a motorcycle soar through the air, without killing myself, then I would love to do that.

Jason Soulon

Westmor Industries

Shawnee, Kan.


If I knew I would not fail because I had the patience, intelligence, and talent, I would learn to play the piano. One of my regrets in life is that I enjoy music yet cannot play a musical instrument. With all the challenges presented by the pandemic, it would be relaxing to sit and play music. I am amazed at the ability my grandchildren have acquired at a young age, hopefully it will last a lifetime. This may seem to be a minor accomplishment, however at my age I recognize that the simple things in life seem to provide the greatest satisfaction.

Gary France

France Propane Service

Schofield, Wis.



No matter what your own response is to this question, you’ve now read some ideas that may inspire more thoughts on the topic. I’ve been impressed by people I’ve known who were grateful for failure and the lessons learned. We often have the capacity to move forward if we learn well. I’ll sign off with these two quotes:

“The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure.” ― John C. Maxwell

“Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” ― Coco Chanel


Nancy Coop, Cetane Associates


This column was first published in the November 2020 issue of Butane-Propane News.

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