I never liked that question.
Isn’t that the stuff we do all the time?
Take a look at many of the people you know who are living beaten down, poverty stricken lives. Very few of them are in that situation because they tried something and failed.
Most of the “failures” are there because they didn’t take enough risks in the first place.
For the most part they spent most of their lives continuing to do stuff where they knew they wouldn’t fail.
I watched this happen over and over again in my career as a high school guidance counselor. I would see kids who wouldn’t push themselves because they didn’t want to work too hard.
Or more accurately, they didn’t want to risk not knowing how to do things. They looked for courses that would give them the credits they needed to graduate, but didn’t force them to reach for new learning, or give them undue amounts of homework.
And by and large, they graduated. And they worked their retail jobs after graduation. Sometimes ten or now twenty years later, I’ll still see them at the supermarket. Or the fast food place.
Or I’ll hear how they’ve gone to prison or the hospital for something I would consider much more risky than trying a harder class.
Or quitting a soul killing job with a sure thing paycheck for something more challenging.
I guess that really has to do with how we define risk, doesn’t it?
We do things within our comfort zone and as a result our world gets smaller and smaller. I strive to do things where I know failure is a real possibility, because that’s where the growth is…even more so than the achievement of what we set out to do.
Whatever your religious background is, if you have any, there’s one thing I am sure of…
We were not put here to be comfortable.
And in some ways our relative, first world, 21st century comfort is the worst thing that could happen to us.
Because it dulls our senses, robs us of the beauty, and even the purpose of being alive.
And that is to grow, to strive, to achieve.
And if you want to get religious about it…
To honor God by giving our best…to ourselves, to each other, to Him.
The other side of the equation: the kids who always tried new things…who took an accelerated or advanced placement course, even when their grades were suspect; the short, gangly kid who tried out for the basketball team; the first boy to join the cheerleading squad in the history of his school…
These were the risk takers!
And if they failed, they always figured out how to pick themselves back up again, and get back into the game.
Failure was always a temporary condition for them, not a way of life.
Those kids, and those adults realize the truth of it…we really never fail if we don’t internalize lack of success.
Of course it’s smart to manage your risk, especially if others are part of your physical and financial well being.
But a better question is…
“What would you do when you find your courage and ambition, and the rewards of success outweigh the risk of failure?”
Please Comment! What have you done that was a calculated risk…or even a reckless one? Where the possibility of failing was real. But you felt alive, on purpose and rich…before any of the rewards showed up?