A few weeks ago daredevil Nik Wallenda walked – untethered – atop Orlando’s 400-foot high Ferris wheel – as it was spinning. This is the same guy who traversed a tightrope stretched across the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and between two Chicago skyscrapers.
In an interview he said he wants to be an inspiration for others. People don’t need to risk their lives, he clarified, but they should push themselves to do better and be greater.
“I think people have become very complacent these days,” he said. “I’ve always been a strong believer in pushing myself in everything I can do … I hope that what I do inspires people to step out of their comfort zone and do greater things.”
One of the reasons we admire people who take risks is that most of us are scared stiff at the prospect of taking risks ourselves. “I could never do something like that,” we say. The “something” we could never do might be anything from starting a new career to learning how to make a piecrust. It doesn’t matter. Sometimes it seems that the only people who can take risks successfully are the people who have nothing to lose.
Fortunately, most of us will never have to worry about taking monumental risks. Of course, we use that to downplay the importance of the risks we do face. If it’s not something that involves real, measurable danger – skydiving, for example – it’s clearly not important as far as risks go. What you really mean is that you think the fear you feel about your “small” risk is misplaced – an overreaction.
The same fear that keeps you from taking a tangible risk like skydiving can also keep you from seeking a promotion you want. It keeps you from going back to school to get your master’s degree, or taking a vacation without checking messages every 45 minutes.
You don’t call it fear, of course, but that’s what it is. Chances are you probably use all sorts of tools to keep it fresh and strong: “I don’t have the time.” “It’s not what I really want to do.” “I have too many responsibilities.” Amazing how the human brain can be so effective at using circular reasoning and rationalization as a way to avoid taking action.
In short, playing it safe isn’t the way to get ahead. You’ve got to go out on a limb sometimes – but not so far that you fall off. Intelligent risk taking involves these steps:
Mackay’s Moral: No risk, no success. Know risk, know success.