You can't fall if you don't climb. But there's no joy in living your whole life on the ground.
Too many people “play it safe.” This is the playground of mediocrity. It’s 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, however, are a different 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 didn’t 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.
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.
Successful people take risks, but they don’t take thoughtless risks. Only a fool rushes in. Onlookers might interpret their actions as unwise, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. People who achieve greatness take calculated risks. They think things through and evaluate their options. They research and gain the knowledge they need to make an informed decision. They weigh the pros and cons. They ask 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?
In the age of the information superhighway, getting your hands on valuable knowledge has never been easier. Weighing your options, performing due diligence, and “getting in the know” is more possible than ever. But what sets successful people apart from others is that after they have conducted their research, they ACT! They take the leap. They dare to charge ahead. They take the risk!
With most people, when all is said and done, more is ever said than done. Under the guise of evaluating their options, they get caught in the paralysis of analysis. Have you heard the saying, “knowledge is power”? Many believe this statement to be true. If that is the case, why are so many highly educated people not more successful? Knowledge only becomes power when it’s acted upon.
Success needs action
When is the last time you did something for the first time? When was the last time you pushed yourself beyond your limits? When is the last time you took a real risk? The answers to these questions may reveal much about your willingness to do what it takes to achieve your goals and dreams.
Many people have goals. Only a few ever achieve them. Many people dream. Few people ever turn those dreams into reality. Successful people understand that risks must be taken in order to pull a dream out of the world of the ethereal into the realm of the natural. It is one thing to have a vision. It is a different matter altogether to be a visionary.
Take a moment to revisit your goals and dreams. As you review them, think through what risks you may have to take in order to accomplish them. Are you willing to risk ridicule, failure, misunderstanding, etc.? If you are, you can experience success and the thrill of proclaiming, “Wow… what a ride!”
Are you playing it safe?
Read Mark Frost’s quote again. Read it slowly, out loud. Try placing the emphasis on a different word or phrase each time you read it. Let its meaning sink in. Now take a few minutes to write down what thoughts were triggered in your mind. Think about areas of your life where you are playing it safe and need to take greater risks.
“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… Wow! What a ride!” Mark Frost
What other ingredients do successful people possess?