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Posts Tagged ‘risk’

I got the call one beautiful spring afternoon. Perhaps the most successful friend I know was in his back yard gardening. And that was a problem. One, it was the middle of the workday. Two, he doesn’t garden.

 

He called me because he was upset about a project he was working on. He felt as though he had made a mistake that put the project, and his team, at risk of failing. He called me to talk about what he should do and how to handle it. After years and years of tremendous success, he was finally facing his first failure. I was not sure whether to be flattered by his call, or upset that he thought of me when he thought of failure.

 

But the truth is, I had failed several times. Rather than take the normal course in life after leaving college, I took several measured risks. And yes, by my own standards, I failed at all of them. But in that failure, I was given a tremendous gift — I was now free. I was no longer afraid of making mistakes or failing.

 

One of the people I admire most is a woman who led an incredibly carefree life. She did what she wanted, she said what she wanted and she believed what she wanted. Talking with her, being in her presence, and hearing her stories of life was incredibly invigorating! Whenever I was with her, I always yearned for the life she had. Well, not all of it.

 

You see, the freedom she felt is not something you are born with. It is something you earn through your experiences. Prior to living the liberating, magnificent life she was living, she was a drug addict living in abandoned buildings and eating out of trash cans. It was not an easy or fun life. Yet, a life like that “holds a gift for you in its hands.” In her own words, “once you hit rock bottom and are looking for dinner in a trash can, you have nothing left to lose.” And that is when life opens up for you. In that moment, you are completely free of the fear of failing or worrying about what others may think of you.

 

In many ways I envied my friend and desired the freedom she felt. I wanted to live life as she was living it. Yet, every single time I felt that way, I also felt my fear and asked God to gift me the that kind of freedom, without having to experience rock bottom.

 

Unfortunately, I don’t think that is the way it works. True freedom is only gifted to those willing to risk it all . . . and who are not afraid to lose it.

 

“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All of life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.”
 

– Ralph Waldo Emerson
 

Spring is the season that reminds us that all is born again. Without fail, life is renewed and green shoots of grass, budding flowers and new leaves re-appear. Each year, the earth declares a do-over and gives us a new chance at life and growth. Every. Single. Year.

 

Why not take a hint from earth and try something new this Spring. It is the perfect time to take a risk, make a mistake and tempt failure.

 

I have always said that unless someone dies or get hurts, it is not a mistake. Too many of us are afraid to make a mistake and it paralyzes us. We stay stuck and our lives get stale. Let this spring be the opportunity when you take the risk you have always wanted and say yes to life!

 

READ HOW THIS APPLIES TO YOUR BUSINESS here.

 

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Here in the U.S., we all just suffered from another bout of lottery fever as the Powerball Lottery climbed to an astronomical prize of over half a billion dollars. If you are reading this, chances are you knew someone who bought a ticket. I certainly did, and I began to dream about what I would do with all that money.

 
lottery 3

Not surprisingly, I did not win. The odds of winning are 175,000,000 to 1. To put that in perspective, you literally have a better chance of being struck by lightning or being eaten by a shark than you do of winning the lottery.

 

I always believed that if I could just win the lottery, I would be able to do what I want in life. In fact, I think that is what powers lottery fever – the belief that money is the answer to our dreams, when in fact that is terribly wrong.

 

The truth is, I don’t need money to fulfill my dreams in life. And I bet that is true for most people.

 

The dreams and desires we have do not rely on money, but rather in a belief in ourselves and the courage to take that first step to do what we have always wanted, even if it goes against conventional wisdom.

 

That is the true secret of those we admire with successful, fulfilling lives. They took the risk, sometimes against great odds, and believed in themselves and their dream. They followed their belief, their heart and their passion.

 

And rarely do those people meet with failure. They either succeed in fulfilling their dream, or they feel satisfied that at least they tried. The worst thing we can do in life is go to our grave knowing we didn’t even try.

 

So if you really want to feel like you won the lottery in life, stop waiting for your numbers to come up and simply take that first step you need to take to fulfill the dream you have held in your heart all your life

 

A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage. Every day sends to their graves obscure men whose timidity prevented them from making a first effort.

– Sydney Smith

 
Thankfully, life is not a lottery where all we can do is hope to win against great odds. Life is a culmination of our actions. It is a story that is inspired by our dreams and can be made real simply by believing the story we tell ourselves and having the courage to act upon it. Once that first step is taken the path reveals itself. And step by small step the life you desire miraculously appears.

 
This awesome video celebrates your courage, a belief in yourself and that magnificent first step!!
 

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If I had to measure my life of late, I would hardly say it registers on any scale of magnitude. To be honest, it has become quite stale and safe. Even I think it is boring. As a friend recently commented, I have become “a prisoner of my own mind” trapped in a routine of living and limiting beliefs that promises little in the way of an exciting future.

 

With this state of mind as a backdrop, I recently had the pleasure of being a tourist in my own backyard. I took a ferry across New York harbor, passed under the welcoming glow of Lady Liberty’s golden torch, and made my way to Ellis Island. From 1892 to 1954, 12 million immigrants passed through the halls of Ellis Island with little more than hope and a dream filling their pockets. Many of them confronted great amounts of fear, disease and uncertainty on their harrowing journeys from their homeland. At the end of their journey, they traversed an understated, but wonderfully significant area of Ellis Island that came to be known as the Stairs of Separation.

 

These worn black stairs are where most immigrants took their last steps as their “old self” before they left behind all they knew and stepped into the New World. To the left, and they were off to the thriving metropolis of New York City, with its skyscrapers reaching as high as their hopes. To the right, and they were off to the Wild West to chase a dream they carried with them across the seas. Down the center, and they sadly were detained or returned to the land from which they came. Thankfully, most did not travel the center stairs.

 

As I stood at the top of these stairs, staring out a window that perfectly framed the green Statue of Liberty, I thought about my grandparents, and so many others, who tearfully walked each step, with only an uncertain future and a belief in themselves pulling them forward.

 

Their courage is astonishing.

 

After some moments of reflection, I chose the right steps. My spirit headed west, yearning to be awakened from its slumber to once again feel alive and experience adventure.

 

Like the immigrants, I do not know what awaits me in my new world, but the uncertain future pulls me forward nonetheless.

 

Wherever you are in your journey, know that adventure still awaits you. The prison bars that surround us are most often imagined . . . yet they feel so real. But the same imagination that keeps us trapped can create the greatest prison break in history, freeing us to live that dream we so deeply desire.

 

What is it that I really want to do with the one wild, precious thing called my life? Don’t go back to sleep. The fires are always kindled. Don’t go back to sleep.

– Anais Nin

 

What journey or risk will you take this fall? Will you have the same courage the immigrants possessed to walk the Stairs of Separation and begin your journey, or will you live a safe life, never leaving the shores of the comfortable place you call home?

 

Here’s a little inspiration for you when you are standing at the doorway of adventure, uncertain as to whether or not to walk through. I say take that first step, and see what you find, for the journey awaiting you, unfolds one step at a time.
 
 

Photo Credit: Ed Karjala

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