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The dictionary definition of risk is ‘Exposure to harm or danger, to put on the line, take a chance, put in jeopardy’. It all makes risk sound really scary and like something you would, or should, avoid at all costs.  So, most of us tend to view risk-taking negatively, regarding it as something that is unwise.

But I think of RISK quite differently.

I’ve always felt that there was something very exciting about taking risks. That I could learn a great deal more about myself, and my life, when I take a risk. I have always tended to ‘reframe’ risk as an opportunity to learn or succeed rather than just a path to failure.  If you consider risk to be ‘making an action when the odds are be stacked against you’ it sounds more like a fantastic challenge to me!

Most people are afraid to take risks simply because they are afraid to fail.  But replace the word failure with learning. Both failure and learning have got to be an opportunity for growth, haven’t they?

As long as you are learning from your mistakes (failures), you are experiencing growth.  And learning is surely an option you are open to. Failure and learning are simply necessary stepping stones you must take to move towards your success.

Risk taking is essential to your success because great, otherwise unforeseen opportunities often come from taking a risk. So taking risks involves moving forward despite fear or uncertainties you may have. But until you experience discomfort, real growth, discovery and development do not exist

Often, it’s our preconceived notions about things that stand in the way of our risk-taking ability. If you are a rigid thinker, with little flexibility in how you see things, then you will be less open to new possibilities.  And think of all the learning you’ d miss out on with a closed mindset.

Do you find your yourself taking risks, or playing it safe?  I think taking risks is necessary for success. Moving into an area of discomfort allows you to grow, to learn, discover. You will not come out on top every time, but when you do that’s when the magic happens. Of course, It’s important that you do actually learn from a failed event.

Through the uncertainty and the unpredictable, you make things happen, rather than wait for things to happen.

When you are unafraid to fail, you are open to learning. You will either win or learn.  There is no failure here. There is no loss in learning. Success won’t fall in your lap. You have to pursue it.

But beyond being personally or professionally beneficial, taking risks may be a necessary step for you, in actively pursuing your success. You really have to put one foot in front of the other and start on your journey. You have to be comfortable that you don’t know exactly how you are going to get to the results that you want to see. And you have to be comfortable that you can think your way through and actually execute your way through to the desired outcome. You won’t always get what you want by playing it safe.

I never met a World Class performer who didn’t take risks often to find out what was possible and what the limits were. By taking risks they pushed into new territory that gave them an edge over the competition. Risk taking won’t only potentially benefit the path you are on, it may actually open you up to a world of possibilities you haven’t yet considered. It may feel that the world outside your comfort zone is huge and scary. But until you’re willing to put yourself out there and take a risk, you’ll never be able to achieve professional or personal success and realise your potential.

It’s time to leave your comfort zone; time to go after what you’re passionate about; and time to get what you want. It’s time to embrace the idea of taking a risk because it will help you to overcome any fears you may have that you might fail.  But remember that failure isn’t the end of your journey to success. It’s the beginning. Failure is not the opposite of success but a stepping stone to success.

You will have heard of Michael Jordan, one of the greatest Basketball players of all time. He thoroughly embraced failure and risk. He famously said “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed. I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying. Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”

Michael Jordan was a master at pushing himself, embracing the concept of trying and the possibility of failing. Through failing he succeeded.

Don’t be fearful of failing. Quite the reverse. Embrace messing up as you will only learn and move forward through finding out what does and doesn’t work.  It is an essential part of the process of learning, exploring and getting what you want. You will have to take some uncomfortable steps in the journey to your goal. You will expose yourself to decisions that don’t come easy. You will have to step (and often leap) out of you comfort zone to find out what you are capable of.

You can’t beat the feeling of finding out you can do something you didn’t think you could do. In the presence of something good or exciting, your brain will release ‘feel good’ chemicals (endorphines, oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine).

If you haven’t experience the hit you get from these natural highs, then I suggest you do something today to find out how good it feels.

Take a risk. You will either win or learn. There is no failure. And there is never any loss in learning