What if taking chances were well-rewarded and everyone took them?
We risk every day. We risk when we walk out the front door, drive to work, put food and water in our mouths and breathe the air. We risk just being alive. This is what life is – Risk. Risk in in our DNA.
Some risks have good results, some bad. Our modern-day world has evolved complex systems of governance that define bad risk and protect us from harm. Our tax dollars at good work. Yet for all our protections, we can still be at war, drink bad water, buy harmful products and eat chemically poisoned food. We now see our modern world of well-intentioned actions killing us and our planet. Ending the very existence our risk mitigation processes are meant to safe-guard.
We now operate as if all risk is bad and anything to stop risk is good. Fear has hi-jacked our common survival senses. Assessing risk is innate to all entities on the planet. But as humans, we have seemingly ignored the risk imperative. Choosing to eliminate all risk and die a slow death in faux safety — a uniquely human ability. Fear and die. Or risk and live. The choice is ours.
resolve to: Step Out
Risk is a reflexive word. I have seen people break out in a cold sweat, start to shake, run and hide (literally) and break out in hives at the mere whisper of the word. The word risk has perhaps truly become one of the most evil of four letter words of our time. We treat risk as anathema, a curse, the great scourge of work, and life. To avoid it like a plague, we mitigate it, manage it and try to remove it from all processes, procedures and parts of human existence.
Yet we know, somewhere deep inside, without risk there is no gain. More than a platitude, this simple phrase – no risk, no gain – contains a truth we cannot avoid. People who refuse to take risks wind up locking themselves in their houses, afraid to walk outside least they be run over by some proverbial car. I know someone with a Ph.D. who will literally not go outside. This may seem an extreme case, but the manifestations of the fear of risk occur all around, often couched in reasonable explanations. I won’t tell on my boss who is a cheat or abusive or dictatorial because I can’t lose my job because I have kids. I won’t stand up for myself or speak up because I want to be liked by all. I won’t ask for a raise for fear of imagined, or real, repercussions. I won’t, because someone holds power over me and I’m afraid of ‘X.’
Risk is really a yin-yang offering. Not a singular circumstance, rather a coin with two sides. For every bad consequence, flip the risk coin over and there is a good side. Being fired by a bad boss can be a blessing of not being caught in his or her worse schemes or the opportunity now presented to find a good job and great boss. Stand up for yourself and your kids will be prouder of you. Rather than a bland, silly-putty blob, not being liked is evidence of character.
The size of a perceived risk is usually over imagined, more often than not. As people grow older, they understandably risk less. They have been there, done that and hopefully learned from their bad experiences. Yet the positive flip side is they got to this age of wisdom by traveling that bad road of potholes. It was a rough ride, but they arrived, a little worse for wear, but intact. A bigger, greater whole for the sum of the total parts and experiences. Passing this fear of presumed risk to younger generations without a full and balanced story or explanation robs them of their opportunity to end up at a different place.
The flip side of failure is success. Risk in business is the same. Success is not achieved without risking to fail. Success is a coin you must flip to achieve it. The dice you need to toss to win the money. Risk is growth and movement. To go forward, you need to take the step outside of the house and the proverbial box. Think back. Every time you accomplished something, no matter how minute, you had to risk.
To hit that baseball you had to risk a swing. To get all the pick-up sticks you had to risk taking each out of the pile. To get to the next level of play you had to engage in the game. To get that job you had to apply. To get that raise you had to ask. To get that client you had to knock on the door. To build it so they will come you have to, yes, build it. To grow that plant of your life, you need to sow it. Ad infinitum. To infinity and beyond, without limits. Sometimes you lose, even many times. Losing just means you tried. But you never win unless you flip the risk coin over and see the other side of fear – the possibility.