A lot of people mistakenly think that if they get themselves involved in a new venture and it doesn’t turn out the way they expect it to, that it’s all over. The sky will fall, their world will come crashing down, and that they’ll never bounce back from it. It’s this type of one shot do or die mentality that hinders many of us from taking risks.
Columbus did not take a risk. He chose to go on a journey to explore the new world. Entrepreneurs don’t take risks. They choose to go on a journey to explore other means of making a living. Companies don’t take risks. They choose to explore doing things differently than the norm. Individuals do not take risks. They look at life as a journey of exploration filled with opportunities to transform (better) their lives. Risk is not just about looking at one tree. One steps back and looks around. Risk is about exploring an entire forest!
When we were young, we didn’t even understand the notion of risk. We just did. We might have ate paint chips off the wall, tasted the handful of dirt we scooped up off the ground, stuck our fingers wherever we were inclined, but as time passed and we grew older, many of us were slowly introduced and taught the notion of risk by our elders. And it was as if a square marking our boundaries was slowly painted around us. Soon many of us stopped risking. We stayed confined within the box that was drawn around us by others and we accepted it. The end result was an internal guide that said; this is where I’m comfortable. This box determines my capabilities. I can’t and I will not step out of this box.
Neither end of the spectrum is suitable, so how can we reconcile? On one hand, when we were young, we just did without thinking of the consequences. On the other hand, when we got older, a lot of us stopped doing because we started thinking (too much!) of the consequences. How can we get the best of both worlds? How can we get back that trait of boldness we had as a child? It’s actually very simple. It just involves changing what we label risk as.
Labels are extremely powerful because we tend to pass judgment solely based on that. When something is labeled, we equate some sort of image to it. Armani – fancy suit. Ferrari – fast car. Nike – running shoes. What image does the label of risk conjure up for many of us? Subsequent danger! The label is the reason why risk yields has so much power over us. We judge risk as endangerment.
Every time we chose to come from the expectation that risk is a journey to explore, the box around us gets larger and this increases the span of exploration, automatically spilling over to other areas of our life. If we find ourself “prospecting” at our job, we’ll also find our self rummaging through our social life our personal life, etc. As we keep on doing this, we realize the fact that there is no, or ever was, a box drawn around us and that it was all in our head the entire time.
When we begin to take little risks of exploration, we make our self bold enough to take those big risks that appear to be like do or die situations from the outside, but make us smile on the inside because we know otherwise!
If you take your “risk history” (a long list of the risks you have taken in your lifetime like learning to walk/ride a bike, etc) – you may see how you “grew/learned” from each risk. And, the more risks we take the more courage we have to take even more…it’s like developing a “risk muscle” that strengthens the more it’s used.
An Effective Risk-taking Infrastructure Includes:
Be aware of the type of risk you want to take. Does it feel like the timing is “right”? Can you handle the outcome (whether you are pleased with the results or not)? Is it worth it? Are the benefits greater than the losses?
Do you have a support system in place to help inspire you as you walk through this process? (an associate? a friend? a mentor?) What steps do you need to take to prepare you to do this? What is motivating you? What is blocking you?
Can you do a “dry run” ahead of time (e g. if you are going to give a presentation – practice it!). Before you take the risk can you acquire any skills that will help you through this journey?
Remember to breathe and relax before, during and yes after the risk-taking as this is a vital tool you need to succeed (and also live)!
The most calculated risks are those where the potential downside is limited, but the potential upside is virtually unlimited.
Here are a few ideas of calculated risk taking:
* Ask someone out on a date (worst case downside = one-time (and a possibly embarrassing) refusal, best case upside = fulfilling relationship with a kindred spirit).
* Ask for a raise or promotion (worst case downside = manager says no, best case upside = permanent raise or promotion)
* Enter into in a personnel practice to “breath” deeply…in and out (worst case downside = It is bothersome and you quit, best case upside = you optimize your state of well being as your body is nourished, and you feel better)
* Join a new club (worst case downside = waste some of your time and quit, best case upside = life changing friendships plus a lot of other benefits)
* Take a cooking class (worst case downside = use a little time and money, best case upside = become a permanently better chef)
To laugh is to risk appearing a fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out for another is to risk involvement.
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self
To place your ideas, your dreams before the crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To hope is to risk despair.
To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing… does nothing… has nothing… is nothing.
You may avoid suffering and sorrow, but you simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love…..live
Chained by your certitudes, you are a slave; you have forfeited freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.
To Your Success,
“The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.”
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