What could be riskier than diving out of an airplane or climbing a glacier-covered peak or accelerating a race car into a curve at the Indy 500? While these examples are pulse raising and risk filled, what about life decisions that we face almost daily? For me it was quitting a secure, well-paying job to start a business, 3 Graces Design Studio. For another person, it could be deciding to leave a marriage after 18 years or reporting that the company they work for is endangering the environment or people’s lives.
At first glance, psychological risks that summon us to put our personal values and beliefs on the line may ultimately feel more dangerous than those of physical challenges. Yet these fundamental challenges that we face time and again are the essential sources of growth as individuals. Each time we take a risk that contributes to our personal growth or enhances our self-esteem or enriches our lives, we make the choice to stretch ourselves, knowing there are no guarantees and chancing possible failure.
Growth-producing risks generally fall into three categories.
These are the risks you take when you want to get ahead, learn something new or make a distant dream a reality. You take on the venture with hopes of enriching your life. Maybe you want to change careers, or take ukulele lessons, or learn a language. On one side of the risk is the person you are and, on the other, the person you want to become.
Commitment risks have emotional stakes whether you pledge yourself to a person or a relationship or to a cause, a career, or a value. Joseph Ilardo, author of Risk-Taking for Personal Growth, advises that if you avoid making emotional commitments, you all but guarantee that personal emotional growth will be stunted.
Communication risks fall into the category of self-disclosure. Anytime you tell someone how you really feel you’re taking the chance of self-disclosure. When you open up to others and reveal who you really are, how you feel and what you want and need, you make yourself vulnerable. It is impossible to be assertive without doing so.
All risks carry with them the possibility of failure. Often you have to surrender being in your ‘comfort zone’ before any real benefits are realized. Routines may have to change; the familiar may have to be released. What are the benefits then, why take a risk? Challenging yourself is the key to personal growth and development. It also allows you to let go of expectations or roles that don’t fit who you are or who you want to be. Tomorrow we will post a quiz for you to ask yourself some questions about your level of risk taking.
Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications