Its been said that everyone wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die. We want the best in life for our self and our loved ones but we have a natural aversion to risking in order to get it. But let’s face it life is risky and if we really want to gain in life it requires more risk than just getting by. There are no guarantees. There is no true security in life. It is always changing, always challenging – and guess what?….
At the end of it you die.
So what is it about living that is so scary? Well, everything I guess. Just think of every significant achievement of your life from being conceived, gestating and being born, to the trees you climbed, the bikes you rode, races you entered and the daring feats you engaged in.
They all required risk.
Your body risks too. Every time you breathe out you are risking not breathing in again. Every time your body does a temperature you risk dehydration and convulsions. Every time you open your mouth you are risking deadly infection. Every time you fill your stomach with food you risk it not being processed.
So, what allows us to do these risky activities? The common factor here is trust. Trusting in the process of life. Trusting in your body’s ability to do what it is designed to do when the situation calls. Trusting nature. Trusting other people. Trusting your environment. Trusting life.
Well, what is it that stops you from trusting the process of risk then? The thing that challenges you in trusting and allowing you to move forward and experience all that life has to offer is the memories of the past. It’s that little voice that comes up and whispers (or maybe yells) at you to not risk whatever the current challenge is. Those memories that keep flooding your mind with those familiar voices of long ago, mum, dad, teachers, elders, peers and external authorities uttering words of warning, caution and pulling you back. As a child I was told not to walk on the wall in case I fell, not to play with knives unless I cut myself, not to eat too much in case I was sick. These and many more avoidance commands came out of love and concern but set me up for those little voices inside insisting on risk avoidance.
Your mind craves familiarity and will do what it can to keep things the same so it listens to those voices and obeys. Dwelling on history only creates a restriction on the better things to come. This little piece sums it up.
“If you always think what you’ve always thought,
then you’ll always feel what you’ve always felt,
and if you always feel what you’ve always felt,
then you’ll always do what you’ve always done.
And if you always do what you’ve always done,
then you will always get what you’ve always got.
If there is no change, there is no change.”
Now, this is not to say that all internal dialogue is to be ignored and all regular behaviours should be changed but one must question whether it is, in fact, useful now.
How often do you hear yourself telling your child not to climb, run, skip, jump or even fly because they might hurt themselves?
How many times do you find yourself keeping you and your children away from dirt and germs?
How many times do you ‘protect’ your child from normal kids playground disputes?
How many times do you not say what needs to be said in your relationships?
How many times do you pull back from social engagements and opportunities to express yourself because of the unknown?
The fear of risking stops the expression of life.
If you stop living in the past, the fear will disintegrate. Opportunities will start to rise faster. Stimulating new viewpoints will fill your days.
Risking more than others think is safe is a sure-fire way to open you to a state of excellence. Living in this unsafe zone becomes a vibrant, entertaining and enlightening journey of discovery. Shun safety, embrace risk and enjoy living on the ‘edge’. Just look at a group of 3 years old at play. They are whoever they say they are. They can do whatever they say they can do. They are willing to risk all to be alive.
Our life is strengthened by hardship. The knocks, the falls, the mistakes and errors are what make us. It’s the picking ourselves up from ways that don’t work and doing things differently is what leads to breakthroughs. It’s the learning and applying better behaviours that develop and strengthens us.
In many respects, every breakthrough opens the door to more breakthroughs as long as we are willing to embrace and reframe error. We always have a choice with error – we can take it personally and see it as a fault of our self or we can take it as a behaviour that we have performed that is not useful, that has nothing to do with our identity and that can be done again in a different way.
If we subscribe to the latter notion it leads to a willingness to confront our greatest fears and do what we dislike the most almost eagerly seeking error so that we can make more distinctions.
A great way to accelerate this growth process is to seek to express your “Not Me” behaviours. These are any behaviour that you don’t have as your identity. By doing something that is “Not Me” you will create new neurological pathways that will drive new ways of being and looking at the world. Even your classification of ‘Error’ will change as your perspective on life shifts.
So, today, take this thought and apply it in your life, family and business. It may be as simple as making sure that you make a decision on something that has been hanging out there undecided for a while or it may be ‘biting the bullet’ and taking whatever tough steps you know that you need to take without concern for whether the actions are accepted or not.
Life is a risky business.