Taking Risks: What We Really Stand to Lose When We Play It Safe

There is no doubt that taking risks can be scary. This is why we often avoid taking risks; our fear of failure can inhibit us so severely that we can instantly talk ourselves out of something the minute we imagine the possible consequences. We are also bombarded constantly with so many warnings, alerts, startling news stories and potential dangers that it’s a wonder we leave our houses some days. The problem with not taking risks however, is that it leaves us stagnant and cemented in our current situation with minimal chance of orchestrating meaningful change in our lives. By staying cautious and maintaining the status quo, we miss out on so much that life has to offer.

When assessing a potential risk, we tend to focus more on what might go wrong or what we’ll lose than what might actually go right. We are really good at thinking of the worst-case scenario, and then deciding that we just don’t think that it is “worth the trouble”. What we don’t spend enough time considering is, “How does staying put and not taking chances enhance my life?”. We do actually take some risks in life here and there; we may get a new job or promotion, get a new apartment or house, or travel to exotic destinations. Where it becomes problematic however, is when we avoid taking the risks that could vastly improve our lives and give us the challenge and fulfilment we crave.

Why we should bother

In order to achieve anything in life we have to take positive, calculated risks. Nothing can be achieved without risk, and apart from this obvious outcome, there are other great benefits to taking risks.

Taking risks allows us to develop and learn new skills. However, we need to be prepared to fail at times to learn from the experience and to come out the other side more resilient and ready to find a new way to succeed. Life’s lessons are true gifts, and if we stay cautious and unchanging, we miss out on these gifts. Each time we set a goal for ourselves or take a chance on something, there is an element of risk involved. We can’t reach those goals and get results without some risk-taking; they go hand-in-hand. Further, taking risks boosts our confidence, enhances our skills, and gives us opportunities we wouldn’t have known otherwise. There is much to lose by not trying.

I took a huge risk when I left my full-time, permanent engineering job to start my own business. It was certainly scary, and pretty much everyone told me not to do it. Thankfully, I decided to do it anyway, and one of the key motivators was so that I wouldn’t end up looking back at my life and wondering “What if…?”

Jumping in with both feet

Most of us have a risk tolerance, and for those that are highly risk-averse, it takes a mental shift to consciously move the needle of our appetite for risk. You must actually experience something for yourself and learn your own life lessons to fully understand how worth taking the risk was. Even if it doesn’t turn out how you imagined, the journey to get there is always a valuable one.

There is satisfaction in trying something new, stepping out of our comfort zones and daring ourselves to try more, and be more. Taking risks pushes us to overcome challenges and become better versions of ourselves. You know what they say…take the risk or lose the chance, so let’s get out there and take a chance.

“A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” – William G.T. Shedd