I am a mixed bag on many issues, including risk-taking. I would never jump out of a plane or attempt to climb Mt. Everest. As much as I love animals both sea and earth-bound, getting in a cage to see a Great White Shark, no won’t do. When we walked by alligators sunning themselves in the Everglades, I kept a distance from those mighty prehistoric predators. Even though they are much slower on land, I would not take my chances of being an afternoon delight landing in the jaws of death and not salvageable by the jaws of life.
The only slight risky outdoor activity I did as an adult was going white-water rafting on the Penobscot River in the mid-eighties. Do not get me wrong; I was shaking in anticipation after hearing about the death of some employees from Palmolive while rafting a few weeks before this planned excursion. Once the day of reckoning arrived, I listened carefully to the instructor. Hearing his firm guidance, I concentrated so much I did not notice that someone fell into the river and was retrieved immediately. Although I paddled vigorously, it was a thrill of a lifetime.
As you read this, you might say, ”She seems a bit risk-averse to me.” My response again is that I am a mix. Many years ago, I became a solopreneur without having financial support from others. A few people told me they thought I was courageous. At the time, I felt I had no choice if I wanted to generate more income in a field that offered paltry reimbursement. I suppose it was a risk, but as the great Joan Rivers said, ”Can we talk?” Okay, full transparency, I arranged my finances to be positioned where if this new endeavor failed, I would be able to return to a low-paying job to cover my expenses.
Since that earlier period, I have embarked on similar risk-taking ventures, which, again, are experienced as not having an alternative. There is, but for anyone who knows me, there is not.
The Unpredictability of Life
I am talking about this subject because life is an unknown no matter how much we believe we can control the future. The old saying, ”We plan and God laughs, ” has merit. The evidence has emerged right before our eyes as this unwieldy tornado-like disease envelops the globe.
If you suggested in December that society would be torn asunder in 2020, you would probably be deemed delusional.
As much as I have taken risks in my life, like many of you, there are a few, for me, very few, I regret not taking. When I journey down memory lane, I remind myself of the reality, that hindsight is twenty-twenty. We can replay, ”If only I knew what I know now.” Think about that, however. You didn’t, so why bother to reminisce about this. Instead, focus on the now. What might you want to do in the present or near future that might be daring for an evolved you? Perhaps, what you could not do long ago, is something you might at this time. The players or events may differ, but a new determination has emerged.
Paralysis around risk-taking often occurs because of fear, usually fear of how others perceive you.
Many people abdicate hopes, dreams, and even pursuit of love because of anxiety around rejection or ridicule.
The fearless take risks because they are determined or are desperate enough to recognize they have nothing to lose. For example, when Jeffrey Skilling, of the infamous, now-defunct Enron, was being interviewed by Harvard Business School, things were not faring well. He was asked at one point what made him worthy of admission to Harvard. His response was, ”Because I am f….g good, that is why.” The prestigious Ivy accepted Mr. Skilling for entrance into its business school.
Your Unique Way of Taking A Risk
Now I am not suggesting anyone use Mr. Skilling’s approach. All of us have our unique style, and what works for one may not work for another. There are, however, ways to be bold with originality and class. Taking a risk does not have to be crude or dangerous, but it may force you to come out of your comfort zone. That could be the best thing possible. Such actions often promote growth and change. Even if one does not receive the response which they are hoping, try, try again. Maybe in a different direction, perhaps not.
At this point, what do you have to lose taking a risk?
This pandemic reminds us that black swans can appear unexpectedly. Also, it reveals the fragility of life. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem A Psalm of Life has a line that highlights this: ”Art is long, and Time is fleeting…” Indeed, time is of the essence. At this point, what do you have to lose taking a risk? You want to test out a new idea, why not. Fear of rejection? Think about all of the successful people who tried before they reached the pinnacle of success. How about finally telling someone you love them? If they don’t feel the same way, tell yourself, ”Their loss.” At least you finally know, and hopefully, you can move on.
What About You?
As we sit in the morass of this unknown, think about doing something out of your comfort zone that feels risky. Yes, you can look at it as frightening, but I challenge you to consider something else. Taking this action might open you in ways you may have never thought possible, and just imagine how amazing that could be.
Once again your article hit all of the proverbial nails on their proverbial heads.
I leave you with a saying on risk taking, “A turtle only moves ahead by sticking his neck out”.
Thank you! I appreciate you reading and commenting. I love the quote about the turtle.💖
Darlene , This a great artice to pause and reflect on. Life in general is a risk at best. We have to live life preparing for that risk and as we add tools to our toolbelt the risk seems to deminish.
Thank you, Larry! I agree. Just living can be risky. I will put more of my articles on the Dirt Road Storytelling page.💖
You are spot on about risk. Such an inspirational, thought provoking and fantastic article. Thank you
Thank you so much Sourabh! What a lovely comment! I am honored. I greatly appreciate it!💖
You got me thinking again Darlene! I really enjoyed this read here. I thought of how I defined risk to me…it was to do something at the cost of something of on the face of danger…then I thought that for anything to be of real danger.. then there was the value involved. The more we value something..it seems the greater risk.
A lot of self talk happens here. sometimes we find we are in situations; like our present day situation, where we do not get the luxury of thinking out the various calculations.. and act in response with instinct or without knowing from our reserves of past experience? So I’m still thinking. The best risk for me was taking a chance on me and believing in me…. after that the rewards shunned out the negative alternative scenarios dancing around. The word risk was replaced with courage and that courage made the risk seem more like a stepping stone.
So there’s some thoughts…lol. Thank you for this inspirational and thought provoking read again my lady! I appreciate you in every way. Have a great Sunday! Paula🙏
Again, thank you for reading and commenting on the article my creative friend. Your courage to reveal yourself has given us many gifts which I greatly appreciate.
I used to have two large meme-like magnets on my refrigerator door. They read:
1. “Leap and the net will appear.”
2. “The barn burnt down; now I can see the moon.”
Over time, travel and family pictures elbowed these messages out of the way. You have helped, Darlene, to get them reconsidered.
You just made may afternoon! I cannot wait to see what is next from you!
With a smile,
Risk is part of the human being. And whoever does not pursue his dreams and does not try to achieve his goals, because he is afraid of failing, is shipwrecked in the sea of his own existence, because he is unable to find courage within himself.
Taking a risk for something that we desire with all of ourselves is a behavior that human beings have always assumed, from the moment they began to be aware of their essence. Trying to live safely, protected by an armor, is a risk in itself, therefore, why go against human nature itself, which is passionate, curious, lively and daring?
Risks contain pitfalls, but also challenges, therefore opportunities – today this is clear to everyone – and using the term risk simply as a synonym of threat can negatively affect business and personal progress. Good risk is an ally of our life and business and it is the precise task of the entrepreneur and his team to do everything possible to transform it into a positive effect.
The predisposition to risk is the basic element to undertake, invest or innovate.
What a lovely comment Aldo! ”Trying to live safely, protected by an armor, is a risk in itself, therefore, why go against human nature itself, which is passionate, curious, lively and daring?”
Just beautiful. Thank you again!
With a smile,