“If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.” (Neil Gaiman), as seen on my favorite daily blog feed from Jack’s Wining Words.
Are you the type that goes home and feels good that nothing happened at work today? If so, you are probably hiding from life and well as from things at work. Life and well as work, is full of risks that present themselves for you to take or to demur. The key to success in work and in life is knowing how to evaluate those risks and how to choose to take the right ones.
Like investing your money, life has very safe, low-risk avenues available that also present very little return. You can sock your savings away in safe investments, like a CD at the local bank and earn 1% or less with basically no risk; or you can jump into the stock and bond markets in an informed way and earn substantially more, with only moderate risk. Life presents many similar choices. There are those who never take a risk, preferring the safety of a boring but safe routine; and then there are those who seem to live life to the fullest, even if there are a few risks involved. Which life are you leading?
Of course there are many shady or speculative investments that one could make with their money, especially if they get reedy or reckless. Most of them promise spectacular returns that seem too good to be true – and they are. People who jumped onto the high return bandwagon that Bernie Madoff was pitching are still wondering where their money went.
The same is true in life. Many people succumb each day to the allure of a quick, artificial high on drugs or the promise of good times on alcohol. Many people die each day from trips gone awry or poor decisions made while drunk. There is no lasting return from either drugs or booze, so find a way to have fun without either. You’ll be surprised how much fun the people who don’t get stoned or drunk are having.
Having covered some of the cautions, one is still better off being a bit of risk taker in life than hiding from life in hopes of living forever (spoiler alert: it’s never been done). So, let go of some of your fears and take a few risks in life. Talk to the person whom you’ve been dying to meet, but were afraid to approach. Go to that party or bar that your friends are all talking about and allow yourself to have a good time. You don’t have to drink or do drugs to have a good time.
Good times, aside; there are many risks in life that are worthwhile taking –
- going back to school to get a degree that will allow you to get a better job
- traveling to a foreign land to see and experience different cultures
- buying that convertible instead of another bland four-door sedan
- asking the boss for that long overdue raise
- finally popping the question on the soul mate that you’ve been dating
- taking that tandem sky dive that you’ve been dreaming about
- jumping into (or back into) the dating pool or signing up at a match-maker site
The key is to take enough time and to have enough information in order to make wise decisions and yet not to over-analyze or over-think every decision. Some people see every opportunity as a win-lose situation. They sit there and visualize the negative – I asked for the date and got turned down, so I lost. Try to see the same scenarios in a win-win light – I got turned down for the date this time, but at least I asked and now she/he knows that I exist. I’ll figure out how to do better next time. Life is not a zero sum game, it is additive and you just added to your store of knowledge. You tried something and even if you failed it didn’t kill you and you can go on. Isn’t that better than going home without trying and wondering what might have been or beating yourself up for not trying? As John Maxwell put it – “Sometimes you win. Sometimes you learn.”
You have to value the learning from trying things and failing as much as you do the pleasure that you get it they turn out. Both add to your knowledge and eventually to your wisdom, but sometimes the knowledge gained from your failures make a stronger impression and add more to your problem solving abilities than the successes. After all, how many times do you take the time after a success in life to analyze what went right and how you got there? If you did, you might find the path to that success was paved with earlier failures and lessons learned (either yours or someone else’s who passed on their wisdom to you).
So, at the end of your day, can you look back and say, well that was fun; I tried; I took a risk and here’s what I learned? Congratulations, you have gained as a person. Now you can go to sleep[ tonight looking forward to the risks and opportunities that tomorrow will bring. Now go back and read my ealier post: Three Little Words -Just do it.