Follow your dreams, even if they kill you

On Saturday morning, I woke up to some sad news: Jules Bianchi, a 25-year old Formula 1 driver, had died from injuries sustained in a crash last October.

I blog about Formula 1 at chrisonf1.com and have done so throughout Bianchi’s short Formula 1 career. He was one of the drivers I rated highly, and I was hoping to see him have a long and successful career.

Since his crash in October 2014, it was clear that Bianchi’s injuries were very serious. Any recovery at all was likely to be limited and it seemed probable that he would not survive for very long. Just nine months after the accident, Bianchi passed away.

Motor racing is dangerous. Although Formula 1 has a remarkable safety record over the past two decades, everyone involved is aware that serious injury or death is possible every time a driver takes to the track.

Bianchi’s death is unwelcome proof of the danger inherent in racing. And yet no-one – not his family or friends, not his colleagues, not a single racing commentator or analyst – has suggested that Bianchi should never have pursued a career in motorsport.

And I think there’s immense wisdom in that. Bianchi was passionate about racing. He chose to dedicate his time and energy to becoming a world-class racing driver. Watching him at work, there was no doubt that he was following his dreams and that he found doing so immensely satisfying.

In the end, his dream killed him. Should he have done something safer, less risky, more “sensible” with his life? Absolutely not. What kind of a life would that have been?

Is living as long as possible the point of life? Surely not. A meaningful life seems, to me at least, much more important than a long life. Jules Bianchi, young as he was, seemed to know that. And what a lesson it is for me.

Risk is a part of life. In everything I do, there are risks, some of them physical, some emotional. Those are not reasons to hold back from pursuing my dreams.

I’m not suggesting for a minute that risks should be ignored. Risks should be taken into account and mitigated. Racing drivers wear helmets and protective suits and drive cars that are designed around safety structures.

Sometimes those precautions are not enough, as in the case of Jules Bianchi, and the result is tragic. But it would be far more tragic had he never followed his dream out of fear of injury.

Risks and challenges are not reasons to hold back. They are simply obstacles that must be dealt with along the way.

Whatever your dream is, If you want to do it, go for it. I only hope I can take my own advice.