I’m reading a book called “Chancing It – Why we take risks” by Ralph Keyes a book about the risk takers of the world. We all know the definition of risk, right? Well, at least we all know how risk applies to ourselves. That’s because it’s a very personal thing. We all take risks and avoid others. Keyes suggests that “Often the risks we avoid say more about who we are than those we take”.
Apparently the biggest problem Mr. Keyes faced when writing his book was to get the people he was interviewing admit that they took risks at all. He spoke with skydivers, artists, high-wire walkers, strippers, businessmen and families. Even the wildest stunt or adventure was not deemed ‘risky’ in the eyes of the person doing it.
This sounds strange at first, but consider the fact that we all have choices. What’s riskier – to skydive from an airplane, or to climb a wall of ice? If you choose to look at these activities purely from statistics, they are both safer than driving to work. Do you consider yourself a risk-taker as you drive to work? Probably not. We have convinced ourselves that it is safe.
Herein lies the problem of defining risk. It’s only as risky as you believe it to be. I recently watched a video about extreme skiing. One of the skiers was providing some tips. One was “Don’t listen to other people tell you what you can’t do, because they’re only telling you what they can’t do.”
Risk is personal. An important point in the book was in evolutionary terms. “For 99 percent of human existence, danger, fear and the need to confront fear were our daily companions. We were risk takers because we had to be.” Now we are risk takers as we desire. And to some degree, we all desire risk.
For some, it may be riskier to deal with the guilt of being too scared to do an ice climb, than to actually climb the darned thing. So they take the easy way out and climb it. For others, the concept of climbing ice terrifies them so much, they drive to their favorite ski hill on the most dangerous road in the area and go skiing to forget they ever heard of ice climbing.
Say no more to risk avoiding excuses… Take a moment to consider the risks that you’re already taking in your life. Your career, your relationship, your sports, your pastimes, your education, your future. Whether you think so or not, each decision you have made in each of these areas are all risks.
Ask yourself if taking these risks have made you feel better about yourself, and your control over your life. If the answer is yes, then please make sure you keep taking them. If the answer is no, then take some more and check again. Risks are powerful, and risks are part of your life. Take control. Seize the Day!
– Kevin Thomson