Risk Taking


Fortune sides with those who dare

When we meet successful people, we may be tempted to envy them for their great luck. Of course, their success has nothing to do with luck at all. Thats why Virgil, the greatest of the Roman Poets, wrote 2,000 years ago, Fortune sides with him who dares. Its a clever way of saying good fortune doesnt come to us; we go to it by taking risks. Life is all about taking risks. And we willingly take chances every day. Whether you drive, take public transportation, or walk to work, you are risking getting into an accident. Every time you go to sleep, you risk not waking up! But you go ahead and do it anyway.

What separates achievers from ordinary folks is their willingness to take optional as well as necessary risks. For example, lets assume I have an okay job. I enjoy it and earn enough to get by. Im not rich, but comfortable. Suddenly I receive a new job offer. The job comes with much more responsibility and a significant increase in salary. What shall I do? If I join the new company, how do I know I will like my boss and coworkers? What if I cant handle the responsibilities? What if Im found incompetent and fired? What if after losing my new job, I cant find another one? Should I risk my present security? Some people would say no. No, it isnt worth losing your security. If you take the  new job, lose it, cant find another one, and cant pay your mortgage, youll lose your house. And then, your wife will probably divorce you.

People who think like that dont understand what true security is. Security can never depend on outside things and circumstances. It only comes from within. If I stay with my present job, wheres the security? Cant I lose it due to corporate downsizing? (Thats happened to me.) Even if Im indispensable, what if the company I work for goes bankrupt? (Thats happened to me too.) On the other hand, if Im used to taking risks, I will have built an inner strength, a resiliency, and an ability to cope in tough circumstances. Those who refuse to take risks to protect their security, willingly live in cages, trapped by their own fears. If we want to fly badly enough, we will be willing to give up being a caterpillar. Turtles cant advance without sticking their necks out, and neither can we.

If you were standing in an amusement park and I gave you a handful of tickets, would you refuse to use them? Wouldnt you want to experience the thrills of the rides? Guess what? You are standing in a wonderland. Not only is the land full of thrills, but the very road you are standing on is magical. Why? Because it is the road that leads to anywhere. It will take you wherever you wish to go. The only price of admission is the willingness to take risks.

Snakes have to shed their skin before they can grow. We, too, have to shed our skin, the skin called our comfort zone. We hate changes. We dislike breaking our routine. We detest trying something new because anything were not used to doing is uncomfortable. But if were always doing the same thing, how can we grow? We are snakes, but we dont know it. We are meant to grow, meant to experience the unlimited adventures offered by life. So, lets practice shedding our skin, bursting through our present comfort level. Lets keep stretching by regularly taking risks.

Imagine a benefactor depositing $86,400 into your bank account every day, yours to do with as you choose. Would you let it just sit there, or would you go out and use it? Imagine what you could do with this gift! I dont know about the status of your bank account, but I do know that every day you receive the gift of 86,400 seconds of life. How you use it is up to you. Why not use it to take risks and experience the adventure of life, sometimes frightening, but always exhilarating. Dont you agree with Sir Walter Scott who said, One hour of life, crowded to the full with glorious action, and filled with noble risks, is worth whole years of those mean observances of paltry decorum, in which men steal through existence, like sluggish waters through a marsh, without either honor or observation.

The following poem (author unknown) summarizes our subject well.

To laugh is to risk appearing the 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 dreams before a crowd is to risk ridicule.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To hope is to risk despair.
To go forward in the face of overwhelming odds is to risk failure
But to risk we must, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing is one who does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrows, but he cannot learn, feel, change, grow, or love.
Chained by his certitudes, he is a slave - he has forfeited his freedom.
Only a person who takes risks is FREE

© Chuck Gallozzi
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