I hadn’t heard this quote in years, but when I heard it repeated in a recent interview, it stopped me in my tracks. I quickly scribbled down the first and the last part of the quote. A few weeks later, when I was looking back at my notes, I’d written. “Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
Over the years I’ve read hundreds of quotes about risk, but this one was epic. Just the first or last sentence could stand alone as memorable with anyone who takes risks. Not just the skydiving over volcanos type of risk, but all kinds of risk. Risk to your reputation, risk to your retirement account, risk of rejection, major downsides, and business failures.
If you’re doing work with no downside, no risk, working just to reach an imaginary finish line that may be the most dangerous work of all. Whatever your vocation, whatever brings you fulfillment, it can be enhanced with risk. Risk requires that we act. When we take action on any endeavor, we learn more.
Doing something that scares us heightens all of our senses. It forces us to look, listen, absorb, and retain knowledge. When skydivers are learning how to open their back up parachute, you know they are listening. I believe risk comes in all flavors. It does not have to be the life and limb kind, for many it could just be the courage to stand up in front of a large room of people and share your dream.
I watched a Ted talk the other day and the speaker was clutching a stack of index cards so hard his hands formed a sort of vice that was bending the stack in half. He was obviously nervous and the index cards bore the brunt of it. What’s interesting is that he had filled out the cards with important notes about his speech, but he got through his speech without ever having to look at them. Once he pushed through his initial fear, “risk of giving a poor Ted talk seen by millions of people” or worse by no one, he slowed down, he found flow.
The next time he gives that speech it will get even better, cards or no cards. He had used risk as a tool to improve, instead of something to be afraid of.