If you want more of anything, you’ve got to take a risk.
Sam was seven years old before he made his first sound. As a baby, as a toddler, and as a young child he never made a sound. His parents were obviously concerned, and they took him to several doctors to have him examined. The doctors could find nothing wrong with Sam, physically or psychologically. Sam simply had no desire to speak.
His family accepted the strange diagnosis, and they got used to Sam not talking. They accepted him just the way he was and nicknamed him “Silent Sam.”
However, one morning at breakfast, Silent Sam opened his mouth and said his first sentence. He said, “This oatmeal is darned lumpy.” His parents were shocked. Seven years of no speaking and finally Sam chose to speak.
So of course they asked the obvious question. “After all these years, why did you decide to speak now?” Sam replied, “Until now, everything has been okay.”
Where do you find what you want?
Well that’s an amusing story, but it’s not reality. Most of us have several things in our lives every day that are not okay. And if you want things to get better, you’ve got to take a risk.
You see … there’s a basic truth in life. If you want more of ANYTHING … a more productive team at work, a bigger market share in your industry, a stronger marriage, a healthier body, or ANYTHING else …you’ll never find it in your comfort zone. You’ll find EVERYTHING you want more of … OUTSIDE … your comfort zone. And that means if you want it, you have to go after it. You have to take a risk.
The question is …
Do you have what it takes?
Do you have the willingness to take more risks? As someone said, “It takes guts to leave ruts.” And do you have the ability to take more constructive risks?
Let’s find out. Take a moment to take the following quiz. It will help you determine if you’re more of a Risk Taker or a Risk Avoider. For each of the 19 paired alternatives, circle the alternative that is MORE like you … alternative A or alternative B.
1a. I can’t help the way I am.
1b. I can change who I am.
2a. I get by.
2b. I get ahead.
3a. I feel stuck much of the time.
3b. I feel excited much of the time.
4a. I play it safe.
4b. I go for it.
5a. I avoid things where I might fail.
5b. I see failure as part of the learning process.
6a. I need the approval of others.
6b. I want the approval of others.
7a. I have regrets for the opportunities I didn’t pursue.
7b. I have few regrets, for I pursued most of the opportunities I thought were important.
8a. I have a lot of self-doubt.
8b. I have a lot of self-confidence.
9a. I feel empty.
9b. I feel fulfilled.
10a. I think the chances of starting my own business and becoming wealthy are not as good as they
used to be.
10b. I think there is more opportunity than ever before to start from scratch and become financially
11a. I would rather “fit in” with the group than rock the boat to get my way.
11b. I am a goal setter and a goal achiever; so I go for what I want.
12a. There’s not much I can do to determine how long I will live. When my time is up, it’s up.
12b. I can influence how long I live by how well I take care of myself.
13a. Getting ahead is a matter of being in the right place at the right time. It isn’t what you know but
who you know.
13b. Moving up in a company is largely determined by personal qualities such as ambition, ability,
effort, and knowledge.
14a. I can’t change my life. I am pinned in by obligations and outside influences.
14b. I can change my life by changing my attitudes and taking some risks.
15a. I am afraid of making a fool of myself.
15b. I’m proud of myself for having the courage to try new things.
16a. It’s important for me to stay out of trouble.
16b. It’s important for me to make a difference in the world.
17a. To a great extent, making money is a matter of getting the right breaks.
17b. Becoming financially independent is a matter of planning, hard work, and appropriate risk
18a. My success or lack of success is pretty much a case of luck. In life you get what you get.
18b. My progress in life is largely a result of my own effort and abilities. Luck has little to do with it.
19a. Other people’s opinions are very important to me. When making decisions I carefully consider
the impact my actions would have on others.
19b. When making decisions, it’s more important to do what I think is best than worry about what
others might think.
To score your quiz, count the number of A’s you circled and the number of B’s you circled. If you circled more A’s, you tend to be a Risk Avoider. If you circled more B’s, you tend to be Risk Taker.
Then ask yourself…
How well is your risk style serving you?
Do you like what you see in your score? If you circled too many A’s, if you’re too much of a Risk Avoider, you’re spending too much time in your comfort zone. You’re taking it too easy it and playing it too safe. You’re not achieving as much as you could. You’re not growing as much as you should. And you’re not experiencing and enjoying life to its fullest.
Oh sure, if you’re a Risk Avoider, you may have some unfulfilled wishes and dreams when it comes to your life, your work, and your relationships, but chances are those wishes and dreams will remain just that … nothing more than wishes and dreams. You need to work on the Self-Management aspect of your Emotional Intelligence. I’ll talk more about that in my upcoming Emotional Intelligence webinar on July 25th.
On the other hand, if you circled more B’s, you’re more of a Risk Taker. You’re willing to leave your comfort zone and go for it. You don’t sit and wait for things to happen. You tend to make things happen. And to do that well, you need a keen sense of Self-Awareness and Social Awareness, also a part of your Emotional Intelligence. In that same webinar on July 25th I’ll give you some strategies for doing that as well.
Now it’s time for you to be honest with yourself. Are you taking enough risks?
ACTION: List two areas of your life or work that need improvement … and where YOU need to do something about them. What risks should you take in those situations to make things better?