Develop the Courage to Take Risks

by Stephen Mills on April 3, 2009

Leap of Faith

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly” –Robert F. Kennedy

What person do you know who has achieved something great who has not taken risks?  The willingness to take risks and the skill to make intelligent decisions between risk and irresponsibility will to a large degree determine the level of achievement that you will attain.  Your biggest risk is not the possibility of failing, it is not trying. Burn this thought into your brain: The one sure way to guarantee failure to achieve your dream, is to play it safe.

“The comfort zone is seductive. We all desire comfort. It’s human nature. However, too much comfort does not serve us well. An inability to step out of your comfort zone will profoundly limit your performance.” –Jim McCormick

Within each one of us lies great potential.  The way you explore that great potential is to take risks.  Taking a risk will tell you what works and what doesn’t. If you fail the first time then you know what not to do next time.  Any particular attempt is not failure.  Failure is  staying down after you fall down.  If you get up and try again you will ultimately succeed.  Thomas Edison tried 2,000 times before successfully creating the electric light bulb.

Watch a child learn to walk.  They struggle and they fall.  Then they bounce back up with a smile on their face and they try again.  They are not afraid to fall and somehow intuitively know it is part of the learning process.  Failure is a key to learning.  It is the fastest route to success because you learn far more from your failures than you do from your successes.  I read once that embracing and amplifying risk is the best way to learn.  What an incredibly positive way to look at risk!

“Why is it that we do not see the process of reaching our goals as having steps similar to the ones a child must take in order to learn to walk?  We will stumble and fall 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 fail.  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.” –Bob Proctor

Many people do what you do and so the only way you are going to stand out from the crowd is by doing things differently.  That means taking risks.  Most people don’t take risks because they are afraid, and fear comes from ignorance.  You are afraid of what you haven’t done before and what you don’t know.  How are you going to learn enough not to be afraid anymore unless you step up to the edge and take that first leap of faith?  Fear is simply the unknown and courage is making the decision to learn something new.

Being trapped by fear and refusing to take risks my lead to a safe, boring and mediocre life.  But you will never thrive, learn, love, or grow if you stay in that trap.  You must test and stretch your abilities by taking risk.  But what is risk anyway?  What are you going to lose?  Something you never had to start with cannot be lost.

Imagine seeing that girl across the room who you know intuitively would be the girl of your dreams.  But you are so afraid of rejection that you don’t approach her.  You just can’t take the rejection.  Yesterday you were not with her.  Tomorrow you won’t be with her if you don’t take the risk.  How is that worse?  You lose nothing by asking and you just might gain your lifelong soul mate if you do.

You will seldom lose anything of value by pursuing your dream and if you do you can simply replace it.  You might need a source of income, but you don’t need one particular source of income.  You might need a place to live, but you don’t need one particular place to live.  You might need relationships, but you don’t need one particular relationship.  You might need support, but you don’t need one particular instance of support.

So if you take a risk and walk away from a job, why on earth do you believe you will not be able find another source of income?  If you take a risk and move to another city, what are you really risking?  If doing something that lies deep within your soul causes you to lose a friend or other relationship so what?  Do you want relationships with people who don’t want you to be your authentic self and live your dreams?  Do you think you cannot form other and even better relationships?  Life is growth so step out and grow!

“Remember, it makes no difference whether your goal is starting a new business, buying or building a new home, getting a new automobile, a new position at work, setting a sales record, or getting an honors mark in school. Whatever it may be, you must step out and boldly pursue it. Keep reminding yourself that you have tremendous reservoirs of potential within you, and therefore, you are quite capable of doing almost anything you “set your mind to.” All you must do is figure out how you can do it, not whether or not you can.” –Bob Proctor

Success compounds and it will compound to great heights if we will only let it.  Success requires taking risk.  Taking risk requires courage.  Courage is strengthened by the knowledge that the fear you are feeling is a result of the unknown.  When you step up and take the risk it becomes known and you no longer fear it.  As Bob Proctor said in the quote above, you can do almost anything, you just have to figure out how.  The “if” is not in question.

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in
which you really stop to look fear in the face.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

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What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Check out this article by Jonathan and Advance Life Skills for some additional information about risk: How do You View Risk?

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Brandon April 3, 2009 at 10:28 pm

Great article! You got me all pumped up, and that is hard to do as I live in a constant state of excitement about taking action, risk, and diving into business ventures.
Thanks and Blessings,
-TAM

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills April 3, 2009 at 10:49 pm

Hey Stephen,

Great article! Over the years I have replaced my personal concept of risk with one of adventure. An adventure is also a trip into the unknown, the difference is our attitude. We look forward to new experiences on an adventure. It establishes a mindset where we actually greet the unknown with a sense of eager anticipation and welcome. An adventure makes us feel alive and engaged. It may even include a degree of risk only we don’t call it that, we call it exciting.

Doesn’t that sound like the kind of life we all want to enjoy, an adventure full of excitement and anticipation? Take the fear away from manageable risk, reframe your view of it, ditch the negative anchors, and that’s exactly what you wind up with. A life that feels like a wonderful, exhilarating adventure. Thanks for the link love.

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Dragos Roua April 4, 2009 at 3:50 am

Getting out of the comfort zone is the most important step one can take in pursuing a fulfilling life. I liked your post, especially the way you mixed quotes and your own vision. This melting has a great impact on the message.

Thanks for a great post 🙂

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Stephen - Rat Race Trap April 4, 2009 at 5:37 am

@Brandon, thank you and great! You being pumped is pumping me up. 🙂

@Jonathan, what a great way to put it: “Doesn’t that sound like the kind of life we all want to enjoy, an adventure full of excitement and anticipation?” Yes it does! Thank you so much for your wisdom and comments.

@Dragos, Thank you for your comments. I love quotes. I think they are powerful ways to gain the wisdom of great minds. I’m glad you liked it.

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Robin Easton April 4, 2009 at 10:23 am

Jumpin’ Jupiter!! What a dynamic article. It is not only a fast read but puts the feeling of power, adventure and excitement right into the reader’s body. It’s definitely not a mind read, but rather a visceral read. The photo is absolutely empowering, beautiful.

I resonate so strongly with this whole post. Many years ago at the age of 26 I decided to have an intimate relationship with Life. I also decided that the key to passion, pulsing Life, magic, mystery and adventure lay in the Unknown. All I had to do was pick up my common sense and head into the Unknown, that which I feared. For in the Unknown lies great power. When we head toward that which we fear, we walk into an infinite, expansive and life-giving world/reality. We may or may not feel courageous at the onset or even through the journey, but it is still a courageous act…if we ACT, we DO. Sometimes we don’t feel our own courage until we’ve acted (or moved through our fear). Then we KNOW courage. We know greater self-esteem, confidence, stronger sense of self…and we then fall madly in love Life. In fact, I think thereafter we thrive on the Unknown. We are set free in an ever expanding world. Blessedly the Unknown is infinite, leaving so much room for continual growth and self discovery. We become like an adventurer always trekking into new untouched lands.

Thank you for such a brilliant post. I am invigorated and inspired all over again. —Also thank you for you moving comment on my last post. It touched me very much in it’s simple heartfelt sentiment.

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Tracy April 4, 2009 at 3:34 pm

That is gorgeous, I’m going to read it again and share it with everyone I know. I’m going to just C&P what I wrote when I posted the link on my Go Group forum:

QUOTE
Watch a child learn to walk. They struggle and they fall. Then they bounce back up with a smile on their face and they try again. They are not afraid to fall and somehow intuitively know it is part of the learning process.

That was always one of my favorite parts of having a small baby. There is something just so life affirming and energizing about watching them try, fall down, try again and finally that triumphant beam.

Hokey alert: We were born to be plucky and determined, weren’t we? It’s a skill some of us lost, but we can regain it. We weren’t born quitters!

***********

Yes, I did have the courage to be hokey!

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Stephen - Rat Race Trap April 4, 2009 at 10:05 pm

@Robin, your comment is like another post. Thank you for your wonderful words and wisdom.

@Tracy, I thought it illustrated the point beautifully and is something almost everyone can relate to. I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

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Tom Volkar / Delightful Work April 5, 2009 at 8:59 am

You’ve put together some powerful quotes that add to your main point well. Risk is very relative to our experience as Eleanor Roosevelt said. After awhile it really become no big deal and simply a part of doing business. We make up all the pressure that we put on ourselves. Since it’s all an illusion anyway – just go for it. The fearful thought carries much more weight than the possibility of the fear actualizing.

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Stephen - Rat Race Trap April 5, 2009 at 3:49 pm

@Tom, thanks for your comment. I read your blog today and I thought it was great. I’m glad you stopped by because it allowed me to connect with your site and you.

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Ryan Critchett January 26, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Great work! I think a lot of people know these principles, they have heard that fear will invariably hold you back from achieving the life you desire but when the conformity of society’s norms sees concepts like this, it looks at it passively. If anyone out there is looking to start a business, take a risk, follow your passion, whatever it is, we all have some great advice for you: DO IT. I am, and my life has never been so incredible.

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Loretta August 3, 2010 at 10:14 am

Hi I’m a church administrative assistant and we really would like to use the photo you have on “Develop the Courage to Take Risks” as a background for our new sermon series on risk taking. I was wondering if you knew where I could get it as a larger image.

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