Take the risk! © Bob Proctor/LifeSuccess Productions. Replicate only with copyright in place on all pages herein.

My dictionary tells me that to risk is “to expose oneself to the chance of loss.”

Another piece of literature I was once given (author unknown) suggests that:

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 ideas and dreams before a 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.

You may avoid suffering and sorrow if you don’t risk, but you simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love or live. The greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing … does nothing and has nothing. Only a person who risks is free. What causes individuals to shy away from taking a risk, even if it is a low risk and will give them something they really want? Well, certainly high on most people’s list would be fear of loss, failure and perceived humiliation if the loss were to occur.

But why would we automatically think that we would fail at something? Why wouldn’t we first TRY and see, and then if we did initially fail, learn from that experience and move on?

What causes us to have these thoughts of inferiority? Since risk-taking is not a subject taught in school, it would lead me to believe that a person’s fear of taking risks might stem back from before they can even remember. When you were a child taking your very first steps it wasn’t uncommon to hear one of your parents or guardians say, “Be careful, you might fall.” Or, “Don’t do that, you’ll ….” Though some of this is rhetoric and you don’t really think you’ve paid much attention to it, it actually begins a pattern of “playing it safe” deep in our minds. Think of how much better equipped we would be to face life’s challenges and succeed if we had repetitively heard, “Take a chance and don’t worry about falling, because you’re going to fall … probably quite often. Falling is an important part of learning.” Many of the greatest lessons you’ll receive in life are going to come from falling … from your failures.

So you’ve taken a risk and failed. What next? Failing will never MAKE you a failure unless you quit. Unfortunately, very few people heard that when they were small. The vast majority of our population has been mentally programmed to play it safe. In my seminars I have often said that a little baby is a natural born risk taker. The baby never considers the consequences of falling when he or she is learning to walk. Falling is acknowledged as a natural consequence to learning to walk. I guess you could call it a calculated gamble; it’s a prerequisite to mastering a myriad of motor skills required to get you on your feet and moving. It’s a natural progression in movement.

Why then, wouldn’t we stop to consider that any movement into unchartered territory should be viewed with the same consideration? Why is it that we do not see the process of reaching our goals as having steps similar to the ones the baby must take in order to learn to walk? There will be some stumbling and falling in the learning process, but success can only be reached when we are prepared to take those steps – all of them – even the ones where we may fall down. The real win is the confidence and experience we acquire, which translates into new opportunities for growth, enjoyment and expansion in all areas of our life. When I was in school, I participated in track and field. Pole-vaulting was my specialty; it was the one event I seemed to excel at. I clearly remember knocking that bar flying more often than I cleared it. I also remember I was not very enthusiastic when that happened. Knocking the bar off left me with a feeling that because I had failed, I was a failure. I had failed and as I remember, no one advised me of anything different. In retrospect, it would have been an excellent opportunity for one of my teachers to help me understand one of life’s greatest lessons. But, it never occurred there on the field and it would be many years before I learned the truth – the hard way.

The four-letter word you should ban from your vocabulary While we’re still on the topic of children, I’ll throw up another caution flag. There’s a four-letter word that most parents use around their children so frequently, that the children pick it up and, before too long, it is buried in the treasury of their sub-conscious mind. That four letter word is CAN’T. This word has done more damage than a lot of other frowned-upon four letter words put together. I know of some forward-thinking parents who have literally banned that word from their children’s vocabulary! Can’t is a word that paralyzes any constructive progress. It switches your mind into a negative frequency. It is a four-letter word that will open your mind to a never ending flow of logical, practical reasons that will enable you to justify why you are not able to do something you sincerely want to accomplish. The only alternative to that four-letter word is its polar opposite – I CAN. “I can” is far more important than IQ. You don’t necessarily have to be very smart to win … but you must be willing!

When it comes to risk, reaching the goal is not success … Success is moving toward the goal. When I was knocking down the cross bar in my pole-vaulting days, I was attempting to reach the goal. I was stretching, giving it everything I had. That could hardly be considered failing. Every time I tried to clear the bar, I was risking being ridiculed by the other kids. I risked having them laugh at me when I missed … and they did laugh. However, every time I ran down the field and lowered the pole into the box, attempting to vault myself over the bar, I was challenging myself. Taking risks is absolutely essential when you want to reach a goal.

Remember, the key purpose of goals is growth! When you challenge yourself, you bring more of yourself to the surface. If you knock the bar flying today, at least you will know you are challenging yourself; you’re a success!

Make a decision right now to change your attitude abut risk. If you dream of living your life in a really big way, you must accept risk-taking as a very real part of the apprenticeship you must serve. Decide this very moment there will be no more playing it safe … no more “saving it for a rainy day” type thinking in your life. When people get caught up in the habit of saving for a rainy day, that is generally what they get … a rainy day. I clearly remember the first time I heard Earl Nightingale, often considered “the father of motivation,” speak. Earl was telling a story about a farmer who, while out walking in a field, looked down and saw a tiny pumpkin growing on a vine. Nearby, he spotted a small glass jar. The farmer reached down and placed the tiny pumpkin inside the small. jar. The pumpkin continued to grow until it filled the inside of the jar, beyond which it could not grow. There are a number of people like that tiny pumpkin. They stuff themselves into a predetermined “space” of life. They limit themselves and refuse to take a risk. They never truly test the strength of their abilities. Remember, you will never get to second base if you keep one foot on first. Too many people go through their entire lives playing their cards close to their chest. They never step out and bet on the surest thing in the world … themselves.

The risk is only at the beginning! If you hope to accumulate great wealth or achieve high goals, history records that the first few steps have a high degree of risk. You must turn your back on safety and security. To make it big, you must take big risks. You will very likely have to put yourself in a highly vulnerable position. It is also worth remembering that you cannot ALMOST take a risk. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” Follow her advice. Liberate yourself from the crippling emotional state of fear and enter into a world of freedom – a world that allows for risk along the path of achieving great things!

Posted in Thought of the Week.