Risks Worth Taking

How do you know when to take a risk, and when to pass up on it?

They say that to arrive at the answer, there’s only one question you’d need to ask yourself: If it doesn’t work out and the worst possible outcome happens, would you be able to handle it?

In other words, will you survive the fall?

If the answer is yes, then go for it.

My mother has told me, on more than one occasion, that she fears the time I would encounter a major failure, because maybe I wouldn’t know how to handle it. She’s seen time and again how the things I’d gone after always ended up being granted to me. She’s witnessed how the big risks I’ve taken always seemed to pay off. She probably thinks I’m a bit spoiled by life.

But I don’t feel the fear she does, because in reality, my experience of life is not the same as that which she (and maybe several other people) thinks I’ve had. I’ve had successes, sure, but not always. I’ve encountered failures, rejections, disappointments, and risks not paying off, and each of them hurt. They hurt because (1) I don’t actually go for things unless I really, really want them, and (2) once I decide to go for something, I give it everything I’ve got. And I bet you could imagine just how much more painful it is to fail at something you’ve given your heart and soul to. It’s a kind of pain that doesn’t just cut the surface; it slices right into your core.

But I could take the pain, mainly because I’ve tried to take each of my failures as a learning experience. Each of those lessons, born out of failure, was a costly one, so I made sure I utilized whatever value it could add to my life. Pain is, in Alain de Botton’s words, “wisdom in coded form,” and when I encounter it, I try my best to decode it.

Don’t get me wrong, I still am afraid of failing, of things not working out, of risks not paying off, and of the pain I will feel from those things.

But I strive not to let that fear paralyze me. I’ve trained myself to be intelligent at failing, to broaden the scope of the kinds of falls I could survive.

So that every time I encounter the question—

If it doesn’t work out and the worst possible outcome happens,
would you be able to handle it?

—My answer would, more and more likely, be yes. ♥

what if you fly

Quote by Erin Hanson

This entry is part of my undertaking a 30-day challenge Matt Cutts talked about at TED2011. The premise is to “think about something you’ve always wanted to add to your life and try it for the next 30 days.” I am challenging myself to post one blog entry a day for 30 consecutive days. 

Today is Day 21.

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