New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: If You Risk Nothing, You Gain Nothing

opinion

You have this great idea that your gut tells you will automatically translate into you doing, having and being more than you are right now financially or otherwise.

Taking any bold step towards greater achievement is a rather scary prospect for most people. Give yourself a break if venturing into business, seeking a promotion, taking a mortgage or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro gives you a crippling sensation.

If the prospect of the reward denies you several heartbeats, you're likely onto prosperity.

A farmer was out walking in a field. He saw a tiny pumpkin growing. Nearby, he spotted a small glass jar. He placed the tiny pumpkin inside the jar. The pumpkin continued to grow until it filled the jar. Then it stopped growing.

Most of us live like that tiny pumpkin. Limiting ourselves, shying away from projects that would catapult us to success. We box in our talents and completely lock out our dreams.

When climbing stairs, you never really get onto the next one if one foot stays on the previous one, do you? History tells us that to achieve any level of greatness, the initial steps are high-risk. Making it big comes from taking big risks.

Remember that you cannot almost take a risk - if you almost take a risk, you almost make it big. What you want is to make it big, period. Not almost. So you either take a risk or not.

Consider that to laugh is to risk appearing the fool, to weep is to risk appearing sentimental, to love is to risk not being loved in return, to live is to risk dying, to hope is to risk despair. Yet we all take these risks everyday.

While I agree that to risk is to expose oneself to the chance of loss, you may avoid suffering and sorrow without risk, but you simply cannot learn, feel, change, love, grow, live.

By avoiding risks you contain your infinite abilities. The greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing because you gain nothing.

What causes our risk aversion - even low risks that have every promise the huge rewards we desire? Most would agree it is fear of loss, failure and humiliation.

Why would we automatically think that we would fail at something? Why wouldn't we try? We may succeed. If we fail, learn from the experience and move on. What causes these thoughts of inferiority?

I suggest that it dates back to our days as little children. Risk-taking is not a subject taught in school. That leads me to believe that our fears stem from before we can even remember.

Parents shout; "Be careful, you might fall." Or, "Don't do that, you'll fall, hurt yourself", etc. If you're a parent, you're probably smiling because you know exactly what I mean. Some children ignore this but for most, it lays the solid foundation for the pattern of playing it safe.

We'd be much better-equipped to face life's challenges and succeed, if we had repetitively heard, "Take a chance", "Falling is crucial to learning".

Babies don't consider the consequences of falling when learning to walk because falling is natural while learning to walk. Why then, wouldn't we consider movement into unchartered territory similarly? There will inevitably be some stumbling and falling when learning, but success can only be reached when we take those steps.

There's a four letter word most parents frequently use around children that's consequently buried in the treasury of their sub-conscious mind. "Can't" is a very damaging word. "Can't" paralyses constructive progress, opening the mind to justifications as to our inability. Its polar opposite - I Can is far more important than IQ because with challenge, more of yourself comes to the surface.

Eleanor Roosevelt said: "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face."

Follow her advice and liberate yourself from the crippling emotional state of fear and enter into a world of big wins.

The writer is a LifeSuccess Certified Corporate Coach.

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