Embracing Extraordinary Risk
When it comes to discussing Extraordinary Risk, I think it is important to understand how we define risk. Since we have already defined the term extraordinary as being outside of what is common, known, or ordinary, let us define risk.
Risk – \ˈrisk\ : noun. a situation involving exposure to danger. verb. exposing someone or something to danger, harm, or loss.
Risk seems to be associated with danger, hazard, menace, peril, pitfall, threat, or trouble. Interestingly, a mentor of mine once told me that business was about managing risk. It was about deciding where and when to invest your time, energy, or resources to get the greatest return-on-investment. Risk big…win big, risk little…win little. He never talked about avoiding it, he talked about how to manage it!
So why do some folks avoid risk more than others?
3 Factors That Determine Your Propensity to Risk
A. Your Personality Style: At one end of the spectrum there is the Type-A, Driver personality who embraces risk. These personality types seek the edge and they consistently push beyond it. They embrace risk, in fact they thrive on it. Where they can run into problems is when they act before they fully think through a process and end up stumbling over unseen or unplanned obstacles. Which can challenge them even more to work harder, persist longer, in an effort to win, overcome adversity, or beat the odds.
The other end of the spectrum is the analytical thinker. For the most part they are risk adverse, they don’t embrace it they attempt to out think it. They analyze, over-analyze, and put off decisions until they can collect enough data to insure that their decisions are risk-free. They can paralyzed themselves in the in-decision mode. They might fail putting themselves or their resources out there, even though a measured incremental bit of risk would give provide a new level of success or return.
At any given time, each of us lie somewhere between one end of the spectrum and the other. The actions we take depend on our personality type, the perceived risk, or our past experiences.
B. Your Past Experience: In life, we all have experiences that we wish we could forget. We believe that if we could have avoided that incident our lives may have turned out much better. We at times fail to realize that the unfortunate experience could be one of our greatest life lessons. Which begs the questions:
- Why is it that some folks seem to be able to pick themselves up, move-on and try again? They learn a valuable lesson from the miscue and then leverage the learning to propel themselves forward.
- Why is it that some folks get stop and never move forward or try again? They stay stuck, living in the past and fearing that they may repeat the same bad experience.
The unfortunate thing about the second group is that they end up living in the past. They are ladened with regret which slowly robs them of the new opportunities to live an extraordinary life! You hear them say things like, “I tried that once…the biggest regret I have…never doing that again…I’ve always done it this way…and I am who I am.”
The path out is to understand and embrace the idea that life deals us some good and some not so good situations or circumstances. Embrace both the good and not-so good realizing that one cannot exist without the other. It would be like trying to experience day without night … it is impossible so why fight it?
C. Your Personal Belief Systems: The belief exists that while we are in our mothers’ womb we are being influenced by our mothers’ beliefs. If you have a mother who is fear-based, risk-adverse, or just an overall worrier, her body releases chemical,(epinephrine, cortisol, adrenaline, etc.,) which enter the fetus. Now imagine a baby who gets a steadfast diet of these chemicals as a result of the mother being fear-based? How might that negatively impact the child?
Once we are born we get imprinted very early with our parent’s beliefs about God, relationship, family, money, culture, sex, etc. Eventually we attend school, and again we get imprinted by those in authority: our teachers, pastors, priests, rabbi, imam, etc. If you take into account our personality styles and life experiences, (including education) you have the formation of your personal belief system.
Our personal belief system plays a critical role in how we navigate life. One of the single biggest factors which determines our course in life is our willingness to risk. Choosing to live an extraordinary life means that we move beyond what is known, common, safe, and comfortable. It means we must risk and consistently go outside of what is ordinary, common, and comfortable. Whether it is a giant leap or a baby step, as long as you consistently move forward you will achieve your version of living an extraordinary life.
Obstacles – Your Old Nemesis
If you find yourself stuck, unwilling to step beyond your comfort zone, more than-likely you will probably find your old nemesis…fear.
The brilliant Swiss Psychiatrist, Carl Jung, once said, “It is not what it is, it is what we make it mean!” It is what we make fear mean, risk mean, comfort mean.
Napoleon Hill, a famous American self-help author whose book, Think and Grow Rich (1937) is among the 10 best-selling self-help books of all time. He said this about fear, “Fears are nothing more than a state of mind!”
Basically, both of these brilliant people are saying the same thing…fear is what you make it mean! Now imagine how empowered would you be if you embraced this simple idea that you choose how you navigate through fear?
You can overcome your fear and lead the way to living an extraordinary life or… you can have it paralyze you into living a fear-based, ordinary, common life. You choose?
If you were to look at your level of happiness in some of the key areas of your life, and rate them, how would you score?
In fact take out a sheet of paper and on the left hand column vertically, write down the following categories: Finances, Career, Personal Growth, Family, Friends, Relationships, Spiritual, Fun/Recreation, and Health & Wellness. Now score each category by writing a number between 1 and 10, with 1 being low and 10 being high on your level of happiness in each category. In the next column, now rank your willingness to take risk on a similar scale from 1 to 10 in each of these areas?
I’m sure you will see a correlation to the level of happiness and the level of risk you are willing to take. And while that is important, what is even more important is asking yourself…what do you want to do about it?
If you were to just select just one area, the area that you feel would have the single biggest positive impact on your life, which would you choose?
Then decide what small step could you take to move that area of your life to the next level.
What is interesting about this exercise is that you probably already knew this… you were just not in a place to take action.
So what are you waiting for?