The extraordinary life of challenging the status quo

I was discussing my first book, “Freedom after the Sharks”, recently with friends and in particular I was challenged on chapter nine, ‘Building the Dream’.

I was asked: “So is it only successful people that take risks?”

All people who achieve greatness take calculated risks and we all have the ability to make choices, but first we need to take a ‘leap of faith’. Entrepreneur’s do think things through and evaluate options. All ideas are researched to gain foresight that is required to make an informed decision. But, generally it comes down to the following three questions:

1. What’s the best-case scenario?
2. What’s the worst-case scenario?
3. What’s the most likely scenario?

As Denis Waitley once said: “Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.”

Taking risks is not the secret to life, but taking risks does mean we are never at risk of doing nothing.

Too many people ‘play it safe.’ This is the playground of mediocrity. It is where average people live. They colour inside the lines, and always play by the rules. They fear the unknown, and rarely if ever venture outside the boundaries. People who ‘play it safe’ are predictable. Their life is run by rules and routine. Their actions are often dictated by the opinions of others. This is the crowd that fights to keep things the same…

Risk-takers are entrepreneurs, however, they a different and extraordinary breed. They live in the realm of possibility and greatness. They are not afraid to live beyond the boundaries and to colour outside the lines. To them, there is no such thing as failure; only experiments that did not work. Risk-takers are marked by a sense of adventure and passion. They care little for the accolades of the crowd. They are more focused on squeezing everything they can out of every moment of time. They are not afraid to ‘boldly go where no one has gone before.’

Success without risk?

Think about it. Try naming one historical figure that made a difference by playing it safe and being average. The vast majority of successful people are remembered for the difference that they made in their lifetime. And that difference required them to take risks and challenge the status quo.

We are inspired by people who go beyond the norm and push the boundaries of possibility. Mediocrity, on the other hand, does not inspire. Nor does it lead to greatness. Success, however you define it, will elude you unless you are willing to push the limits you have placed on yourself, and that others have placed on you.

The Orville brothers would have never made their historical flight if they had listened to the naysayers. Henry Ford would have never invented the automobile if he had paid attention to his critics. David would have never defeated Goliath if he had allowed his own family to discourage him. The list goes on and on.

Every major breakthrough in history, in business, science, medicine, sports, etc. is the result of an individual who took a risk and refused to play it safe. Successful people understand this. Their innovation is the result of their adventurous spirit. They invent, achieve, surpass, and succeed because they dare to live beyond the realm of normal.

However, many people have mixed feelings about risk, in part because they sense that facing the things we fear can present solutions to our internal dilemmas. Risk is something you want and don’t want, all at the same time. It tempts you with its rewards yet repels you with its uncertainties.

Take high diving, for instance. It’s been called a testament to man’s indulgent pursuit of the insignificant. After all, what did my own high-flying feats prove? That I could withstand two and a half seconds of plummeting hell? So what? The answer lies in my confrontation with my limitations and fears. For me, taking a high dive was more than an act of bravado or a flight of fancy. It was an act of liberation.

Like it or not, taking risks is an inevitable and in-escapable part of life. Whether you’re grappling with the possibility of getting married, starting a business, making a high-stakes investment, or taking some other life or career leap of consequence, one of these days, you’ll wind up confronting your own personal high dive.

Paul Brody, Chief Product Officer of CleverTap sits down with Mark Lack to discuss the right time to take a risk. Is there a right time? When is it?

Risk makes us feel alive. Life without risk is life stuck in a rut. If you feel like your job or life is getting boring and monotonous, then you’re not taking enough risk. The fact is we are built to take risk. We need change and growth in our lives. If you’re not growing, then you’re dying. Realize that nothing in this world truly stays the same.

Risk stretches us and helps us grow. Risk gets us out of our comfort zone to do something different. We learn by experience. Risk teaches us more about ourselves and helps us improve. How much more do we learn through the experiences of trying something big and failing? How much do you learn from taking risk and seeing the outcome?

Don’t let your fear of failure stop you. Fear of failure is often the single biggest obstacle that prevents us from reaching our full potential. We worry about what will happen if/when we fail. Realise that failure is relative. While you may interpret something as a failure, someone else may see it as a valuable learning experience. Often, failure is only failure to the extent you see it that way. What if true failure meant wasting your talent? What if failure was delaying action and missing opportunities because you didn’t take that risk?

Find your true calling. You feel most alive when you’re doing what you were meant to do. We’re not supposed to stay the same, but are charged with growing and developing. Everyone has greatness in them if they challenge themselves enough.

When you are faced with a decision and are wondering if it is worth the risk, it may help to ask yourself these questions:

– Am I risking more than I am able, physically, mentally, or emotionally, at this time?
– Will I be able to take this opportunity again at some other point?
– Are my fears based on real danger, or just on the fear of the unknown?
– What other possible opportunities do I risk by taking/not taking this opportunity?
– Is the risk of doing nothing greater than what I risk by taking this opportunity?

If we think about risks with these questions and process the risk of doing nothing, we are likely to make choices that seem risky, even crazy, to others, but make sense for each of us in our own lives.

The truth is that no matter how much we try to avoid risk and hide from pain, it will still find us, even if it is just in the form of regret. It’s far better to weigh each risk for ourselves and decide which risks are right for us to take than to always let the fear of risks force us to take the risk of doing nothing.

Let me leave you with this amazing quote by Mark Frost:

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body. But rather, to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming…. “

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