Risk Taking 

Last weekend here at RCGS, we had several students take a risk and perform on stage for our annual fundraiser show-ending song.  This was a risk on their part.  None of them had ever performed in front of an audience on stage playing guitar, yet there they were, for the first time doing just that.  And you know what?  They did just great.  It may not have been as good as some of them hoped it would be, but it was a first step into exploring something new and exciting for them.  They took a risk and had fun along the way and gained confidence that they can play guitar in front of an audience.  Their risk paid off.

Risk is a part of life for all of us.  Without taking risk, we do not learn and grow as individuals.  If we only stick with what we currently know and never venture out and try new things in life, we can become stagnant.  We also can become resentful of those who do venture out and try something new and experience success.  

Think of all of the people who have taken risk and achieved great results:  Steve Jobs, a college dropout, took a risk and started a company called Apple which changed much of what we know today in computers and technology (think of what cell phones were like before the iPhone and what they are like today); Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard University to start Microsoft, which is a giant in the computer industry and became one of the richest men in the world; the Wright Brothers took a risk with their own money and time and created the first plane which only flew for 12 seconds at first, but the world was never the same afterwards.  There are many, many examples of people throughout history who took risks and transformed their lives and the lives of the people around them.  Would we be here today if Christopher Columbus had never risked taking his voyage to go around the world?

While the above people all took risks and experienced great success, taking risks does not need to be so grandiose in nature.  Taking a risk can be something as small as trying something new, like taking guitar lessons or taking evening classes in something that you’ve always wanted to learn.  It could be going on a trip or asking someone to go on a date.  It could be starting that project that you always wanted to start but thought you would never have the time.  

These are all examples of risk.  And with taking risk, sometimes the results are not what you want:  You try learning guitar and find that you don’t like it after you already bought a guitar; You go on that trip and miss your flight and lose your luggage and find that it rains the entire time that you are there; You ask someone on that date and they turn you down; You start that project and are not able to complete it.  These are all risks.  However, if you never took the risk, you would never have had the chance to succeed at whatever you are attempting.  Risks always involve the chance of failure.  That is why many people don’t try to do new things – they don’t want to fail and experience the feelings that go along with it.  However, we will never learn and grow if we don’t take risks.  If we take that risk and succeed, we will find that the feelings of success by taking that risk far outweigh the feelings of failure.

Even a perceived failure after taking a risk can pay dividends down the road.  In our example of learning to play guitar, you may find that years later, you weren’t ready to play guitar when you originally took lessons, but since you already have a guitar, you do decide to take lessons again and find that you really enjoy playing guitar, giving you much joy in life.  In our example of getting turned down when asking someone on a date, just the act of asking someone out gives us confidence to do it again and eventually we meet that someone special who says “Yes” and your life is never the same afterwards.  Life is all about risk.  We must not be afraid to take it.  

We must also not try to be perfectionists or wait until the “right time” to take a risk or try something new.  Often, if we wait for the perfect moment, we find that that moment never arrives and we don’t do anything at all.  It’s better to take that risk now and try and fail than to never have tried at all.

Easy risk exercise:

Take 5 minutes and think of something that you’ve always wanted to do, but for various reasons have never done it.  Write it down on a piece of paper and make two columns underneath it.  Title one column “Upside” and the other “Downside”.  Now in the Upside column, write down all of the positive things that you can think of would happen if you achieved what you wanted to do.  Then, in the Downside column, think of all of the negative things that you can think would happen if you didn’t achieve what you wanted to do.  Evaluate the results.  Do the Upsides outweigh the Downsides?  If the answer is yes, don’t wait.  Get started on it immediately.  Make a plan.  Put down goal dates if necessary.  You are taking a risk by starting it and there is always the chance that you could fail, but you will find that any risk, no matter what the outcome, will always be better than the risk of never trying at all.

Taking risks can be scary.  Just ask our students at RCGS last weekend.  They took a risk and experienced the exhilaration of performing.  Taking risk is a part of life.  It is what makes life worth living and gives us the greatest joy when we achieve what we dream of doing.  If we don’t risk trying something new and broadening our own world, we will find that the biggest risk we can take in life is never taking one at all.

 

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