Risk taking means different things to different people.
To an entrepreneur, it may mean betting it all on a big idea. To an artist, it may mean sharing or inciting an emotion. To many working class americans, it may be leaving a job that’s anywhere from “okay” to “god-awful” in pursuit of something better.
But I think that if you dissect successfully (read: healthy) risky behavior, it comes down to an either innate or learned ability to trust yourself.
And I’m not talking about skydiving, swimming with sharks, doing drugs, or having unprotected sex – that’s not risky, it’s dangerous.
Most day to day risk is really about understanding (or a lack of it)
“See what is possible in what you don’t yet understand, share what is possible in what you see differently.” – Hilary Austin
I have this quote in my sparkfile from a TEDx event I spoke at many years ago. I’d forgotten about it, but seeing it again recently put it in a new light.
If I think about the risk-takers I admire, they spoke out or acted on something they saw differently than others, and invited others into that conversation.
Taking that step requires a large degree of trusting themselves.
I think back to when I first met Chris Messina and Tara Hunt – these two people were operating on a completely different set of frequencies from the ones that my employer-at-the time was.
On one hand, the way they were thinking, talking, and acting was different from the environment that I actively wanted to remove myself from. On the other hand, and more importantly, that they validated my feelings that what I was thinking could be realized in the form of words and actions.
I went from being alone in my craziness to realizing that I could trust myself to be right. And that’s when I started to open my mouth and bring words into action, even when it seemed risky – because I learned to trust myself, and I understood that somebody else could be having the same experience I was having before I’d met Chris and Tara.
If they unlocked me, who could I unlock, simply by trusting that I wasn’t alone?
Risk taking is a polarizing activity no matter how you slice it. But when you lead risk taking with trust, rather than disillusionment or false hopes & expectations, amazing possibilities lie on the other side.
What are you doing to help people learn to trust themselves rather than operate on disillusionment and false hopes & expectations?