How Much Risk Is Too Much Risk To Take?
The ladder was braced against the railings going to the basement. I started climbing up. I had to get to the ceiling and this was my Rube Goldberg way of doing it without having to put up scaffolding. I made it up two or three rungs before coming to my senses. It would be so easy for the railing to break and for me to go tumbling down the stairs.
You see I was trying to paint my living room with a cathedral ceiling. I had to get up near the apex at 12 feet. The problem was that there were stairs going to the basement and nowhere to safely put the ladder. So I tried bracing it against the railing before giving up. I was trying to put primer over a quote painted in black that said, “It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce.” It would have been so ironic for me fall from the ladder while trying to paint over that quote. Believe me, I wouldn’t have bounced very high.
How much risk is too much? I calculated the risk and found the risk was too high for the reward. I ended up taping a paintbrush to a long pole, and I got the quote painted just fine. Just a little ingenuity.
In the book, “Mental Judo” by Lance Lager, he talks about falling also. “In physical judo, practically the first thing you learn is how to fall. … In Mental Judo, as in physical judo, learning how to ‘fall’ is important. I don’t mean, of course, falling on your rump, but in a figurative sense falling is falling. Life is a series of ups and downs, and none of us is our imperfection can avoid taking a fall from time to time. When you don’t reach your goal, when you are rejected or ignored or just outwitted for the moment, you are experiencing a fall. It is extremely important that you learn how to fall gracefully and be able to snap right back up with a minimum of effort and without fear of the next fall or concern about an injured ego. Just as in skiing or ice skating, if you are not falling, you are not learning or trying something new.”
We are bound to fall, whether through our own fault or the fault of someone we depended on, be it life at home or in the workplace. What do we do when we fall? Sit and cry? Get mad? Resign ourselves to the fact that this is the way life is always going to be and that success will never come my way? It can be happen in any of these scenarios.
I’ve taken some tumbles myself. A big tumble came last summer when I was doing a job search. I had a good meeting with a company that was looking for someone to do business development for them. I had a very good first interview and was invited back for a second one. The owner of the company called the morning of the second meeting and said he had to postpone the meeting until after the weekend because of time deadlines. Okay.
On Monday I called and left a message. No returned call. The next day I tried the phone and an email. Nothing. On Wednesday, I got ahold of the second in command who was in on the meeting. He said I needed to talk with the owner, and that he would call me back. I heard nothing more. I gave one more attempt on Friday and never heard a word.
Did I do something to offend them? Did they think I was a loser who couldn’t possibly help them? Was I overly naïve and put too many eggs in this one basket? I don’t know what happened and may never find out. But what I learned from that experience was to bounce back and keep doing what I needed to do in order to support my family. I decided a while after this incident to restart my business, which is another excellent opportunity to fall. But it hasn’t been so far. I’ve been meeting a lot of new people and getting new clients on a weekly basis. But it is a risk.
I was talking with a gentleman who had owned his own business for thirty-five years. He told me, “I didn’t go into business for myself to make a lot of money. I just wanted to control my own life.”
Life is risky. We are learning in the current economy that it can be risky to even have a day-to-day job with a company. Risk can be fun, and it can be ulcer producing. So, take a bit of a risk right now. It doesn’t have to be something big. It takes a while to develop your risk muscles. It can start with little stuff and then move onto something bigger.
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