Why You Need To Run Toward Risk

August 30, 2019 Glenn Case
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What price are you paying by avoiding Risk?

person standing at edge of cliff signifying risk and fearWhat if you believed — trusted — this...

That your true potential, success, growth and joy lay out there, just beyond the Risk Zone? Would it change things?

The thing is, we rarely get that far in our thinking. Risk's looming presence - like the Black Gate of Mordor - pretty much snuffs it out before the idea gets a toehold. We rarely really ponder what exists beyond those dark gates.

Risk.

The very word raises our hackles. Sends shivers down our spine. Prompts us to duck for cover. It's one of those words - like cancer - that punches well above its weight.

The result? We humans give risk a very wide berth, avoiding it at all costs.

Risk-based fear keeps us rooted in our comfort zones. Where we feel safe. 80% of us exist in this comfort zone, existing here because — as we have ourselves believe — it’s where we belong.

But what price do we pay for this comfort? It's my personal experience that it's a big price indeed.

For me, this understanding came decades into living. When I stripped myself away from my almost 30-year, 4-walled career that had become so comfortable. Like a well-worn leather glove.

It wasn't until I embarked on my entrepreneurial journey - strayed into Risk's realm - that it all became so apparent. How, in reality, risk-aversion has been my modus operandi.

I've spent my life grappling with fear. Fear of change, of failure, of being "found out" that I'm imperfect after all. Fears that have caused me to step back in the face of risk.

My fears run deep. Exposing themselves now that I’ve thrust myself beyond what I’ve known. Like finger figures in a projector’s intense beam, creating menacing monsters on the wall.

Fears that have kept me rooted and engulfed me in worry. Fears that have fuelled my limited thinking and, in turn, have so limited me.

Forced to meet these fears face to face on this journey of mine, I see so clearly how they’ve impacted me in my career. As a manager — a leader — of others, I’d always seen myself somehow beyond fear. As if fear was a sign of weakness.

Yet, now I see, fear had been a constant companion. Each time I trembled at the gates of feedback, or decided not to search out feedback, it had been fear pulling its strings in the background.

Each time I pushed back against imposed change, fear was behind it.

Whenever I felt my situation threatened, and I created stories to reassure myself — stories bristling with blame and judgment of others — sure enough, there was fear doing its thing.

Fear limited me. Shackled me to what I was comfortable with. Kept me free of the risk zone and, in doing so, stripped from me possibility. Stole from me my growth as a human being.

It made me believe things under the guise of keeping me safe.

But all it cared about really was itself. I see that so clearly now. There was nothing in it for me, except for years of storytelling. It wasn’t even pleasant fiction. I’m a mediocre storyteller, but it was enough to keep me existing.

Too many of us simply exist. Avoiding risk, governed by fear. And time moves on without us it seems.

I’ve had enough of that.

It’s bloody scary stepping from my comfort zone into the face of Risk. But it’s also exhilarating. I’ve not felt this alive for a long time.

I realize that I want to grow. I need to grow.

As I battle my way through the Risk Zone — going hand to hand with my Inner Critic with all tools at my disposal — I feel a weight lifting. Expansion occurring. Clarity forming, like fog burning off to reveal a beautiful sunrise.

I’m learning step by step to pry apart those chains. I see new possibilities. I’m coming to love who I am, as I am. In fact, I'm good and whole, just as I am.

I'm as capable as I believe and trust myself to be.

As I battle my way through the zone of fear — going hand to hand with my Inner Critic with all tools at my disposal — I feel a weight lifting. Expansion occurring. Clarity forming, like fog burning off to reveal a beautiful sunrise.

It’s this, isn’t it, that really separates stagnation from fulfillment? A life of chained comfort from one of unending possibility...

Belief and trust in ourselves.

For me this was long overdue.

Now, I find myself choosing to steer into uncharted waters. Toward risk. Aware that what I do - this article, for example - will appeal to some but not others. And that's OK, because I'm out there, getting better with every attempt. With every gift of helpful criticism.

I'm choosing not to strive for perfection, because that's a pipe dream. I'm happy for improvement. Glad for failure because it makes me stronger through learning.

How about you?

Is it time for you to walk through those dark gates?

Ask yourself:

"What am I leaving on the table by not taking risks?

"How might my life change for the better if I took this chance?"

"What lies do fear and my Inner Critic have me believing about myself?"

"Am I comfortable simply for the sake of comfort?"

"Am I living a lie?"

Only you can answer these. But as is so often the case in life, we simply continue on cruise control, rarely questioning what’s really happening to us. I did, for way too long. It’s so easy that way, because the alternative means we have to explore the very fears that are keeping us chained.

And so, I ask again. What if you believed — trusted — that your true potential, success, growth and joy lay out there, just beyond that zone of fear? A sunrise awaiting beyond the fog. What if you knew this for certain? Would it change things?

What if you trusted this…?

Glenn Case is a Leadership and Career Coach committed to helping business professionals boost their career performance and fulfillment.

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