The Greatest Risk Is Taking No Risk At All

Don’t let your comfort zone become a danger zone.

Everything you want in life requires risk. If you want friends, for example, you’ve got to take the risk of introducing yourself, starting conversations, and showing interest in others. Of course, the people you choose might not be interested in you. That’s the risk. But without taking the risk, you’re left alone.

The same is true at work. Everything you want at work requires risk. If you want a promotion, for example, if you want a position with more responsibility, challenge and money, you’ll have to take the risk of doing more than what you’re being paid to do. Of course, management may not notice and may not reward all your extra effort, and you may upset your colleagues who are doing just enough to get by. That’s life. Not every risk pays off. But taking intelligent, constructive risks will work much more often than sitting around waiting for things to happen.

Think about it. Everything you really want requires risk. There are no exceptions. Whether it’s a healthier body, a bigger income, a better career, or a stronger marriage, you can’t get any of those things by just hoping they’ll happen. You have to do something.

That’s what Isabelle learned. All of her life, Isabelle was painfully shy. She was the one who looked on as the other kids played. She wanted friends as badly as anyone else, but she didn’t know how to make them. More accurately, she was afraid to try. What if the other kids didn’t like her? What if she was rejected?

By the time she was a senior in high school, she was more miserable than ever. She knew she couldn’t go on this way, living on the fringes, watching everyone else have fun .So she began to study what people do to make friends. She noticed a very simple formula. Almost everyone would smile when they met someone, say “Hi,” call the person by name, and ask a question. It was simple but not easy for Isabelle. The formula required that she take a risk. She would have to take some initiative.

Isabelle knew what she had to do, but she was too afraid to try. She had been pegged as a “loner” for so long that her senior high classmates would think she was “weird” if she suddenly became more outgoing. Nonetheless, she was determined to make a new start as her freshman year in college approached.

Isabelle got a copy of the yearbook where she would be attending college. She spent the entire summer memorizing the names and faces of every student on campus. Then she looked in the back of the book where each student’s activities, clubs, and majors were listed. She memorized at least one bit of information about every student there. She knew what she had to do, but could she do it?

She walked on campus the first day of her freshman year, heart pounding, wanting to make a new start. A handsome, broad-shouldered, young man approached her. Isabelle recognized him from the yearbook. She smiled, said “Hi Brian,” and asked, “Are you going out for football again this year?” He stopped. They chatted for a few minutes. It wasn’t so tough. She had taken a risk, and it worked!

Isabelle continued her conversations with almost everyone she met. By the end of her first week, a professor asked if she would sit on the Student-Faculty Relations Committee. Of course she wondered, “Why me? I’m brand new on campus.” The professor said he wasn’t sure either because they had never before asked new students to be on the committee, but she seemed to know everyone.

Forever after, Isabelle said that summer and that first week on campus were turning points in her life. She learned it was important to know what you want; she wanted friends. She learned it was helpful if you have a plan for getting what you want; she figured out the formula for making friends. But she learned it was absolutely critical that she take the risk of implementing her plan. Without the risk, nothing else would have mattered.

Do you want more out of life? Do you want more out of your work? Then you have to do something. And doing something is risky. You could fail. But it’s risk or regret. You either do it or wish you would have.

Action:  If you knew you could not fail, what is something you’ve always wanted to do? Maybe it’s time to give it a second thought. As I said above, it’s “important” to know what you want.  However, if you have a “plan” for your risk, chances are a great deal better that it will work out. So start planning out your risk today. Then remember, it’s “critical” that you take the risk.  Go out and do it. And tell me what you did. I’d love to hear from you.