Risk Taking Is The Way To Get What You Want
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Posted by: Dr. Alan Zimmerman
Dr. Zimmerman's TUESDAY TIP:
Everything you really, Really,
REALLY want in life requires risk.
Dr. Alan Zimmerman's Personal
Everything you want in life
requires risk. If you want friends, for example, you've got to take the
risk of introducing yourself, starting conversations, and showing interest in
others. Of course, the people you choose might not be interested in you.
That's the risk. But without taking the risk, you ’re left alone.
The same is true at work.
Everything you want at work requires risk. If you want a promotion,
for example, if you want a position with more responsibility, challenge and
money, you'll have to take the risk of doing more than what you ’re being paid
to do. Of course, management may not notice and may not reward all your
extra effort, and you may upset your colleagues who are doing just enough to
That's life. Not every risk
pays off. But taking intelligent, constructive risks will work much more
often than sitting around waiting for things to happen.
Think about it. Everything
you really, Really, REALLY want requires risk. There are no exceptions.
Whether it’s a healthier body, a bigger income, a better career, or a
stronger marriage, you can't get any of those things by just hoping they'll
happen. You have to do something.
So what's the problem? Most
people are addicted to one or more comfort zones. In fact, they're so
used to doing certain things in a particular way that they even get defensive
when you suggest a different way or a better way of doing things. The
risk avoider will tell you, "I'm getting by. I don't need to be a
risk taker. Things aren't that bad."
Well, things probably aren't that
good either ... if you're not an active, constructive risk taker. As I
tell people in my program, "The Payoff Principle: How To
Motivate Yourself To Win Every Time In Any Situation," your comfort
zone may be killing you ... and you may not even know it.
For example, when you stay stuck
in your comfort zone...
1. You damage your mental
After two years of research, Dr.
Bruce Larson discovered that poor mental health and comfort-zone living go
hand-in-hand. If you wimp your way through life, stuck in your comfort
zone, afraid of change, afraid of risk, you cannot have great
Think about it. If you go
around saying things like: "I couldn't do that or "’I've
always done it this way," you're killing off the very drive you need to
achieve the bigger and better things in life. As Larson writes, when you
think and talk along those lines, you're committing emotional suicide.
In the book, "Taking
Charge", Richard Leider and James Harding refer to emotional suicide as
"inner kill." They define "inner kill" as "dying
without knowing it" and "coping rather than living." It's
a matter of taking the safe way, avoiding decisions, daydreaming about the
future, talking about the life you'd like, and taking no risks whatsoever to
make it happen. You simply cannot feel good about yourself if that's the
way you live.
Emotionally, you use it or you
lose it. You either take risks or you lose your ability to take risks.
You can take risks to get what you want ... which will ... in turn ...
build your self-confidence to take more risks. Or you can fail to take
risks ... which will diminish your self-confidence so much you won't even think
you could take a risk.
It's a downward cycle that you
don't want to get on.
And yes, I know risk taking is
scary. It takes guts to leave ruts. But hang in there. I'll
tell you exactly how to take constructive risks in future issues of the
If you don't take enough
2. You damage your
Once you've damaged your emotional
health and self-esteem, your lack of risk-taking begins to damage your
relationships. After all, strong, healthy relationships are built on the
risks of openness and honesty, but if you don't take those risks, you're headed
for trouble. You'll never experience true love and real intimacy, no
matter how long you've been married or been with someone if you play it too
Unfortunately, it's difficult to
take the relational risks of openness and honesty ... because someone's going
to get hurt at one point or another. And the most natural response to
hurt is to pull back ... and stop taking the risks you need to take to build
You might even get to the point
where you say, "I've been hurt enough. I no longer trust my husband
(or my wife, or all males, or all females, or all managers, or all whomever).
No more hurt for me." You might pull back in hopes of keeping
out the hurt, but you also keep out the closeness. Quite simply, without
risk, there is no intimacy.
Joyce H. Irminger, a
counselor at Eggers Middle School in Hammond, Indiana,
says it quite well in her poem entitled "Risk."
How carefully I guard the core of
The part I know is me.
The tender part that feels
Letting others have glimpses only
now and then--
The fear is much too great,
The hurt has come too often.
And yet how eagerly I want
When I feel trusting,
When I sense caring.
The task is now to take the risk--
Not just to let others in,
But most of all, to let me out!
In addition to the loss of
intimacy, you'll also lose the respect of others if you're a risk avoider.
Imagine going to your boss and saying, "I have a great idea on how
we can change our department to become more productive and profitable."
You give your idea only to have your boss say, "We've never done
that kind of thing before. We've always done it this way." How
would you feel? You'd feel disappointed, and you wouldn't feel a great
deal of respect for your boss.
There's no way you'd be thinking,
"That's the kind of boss I want. She has such vision, such
foresight. She inspires me. I want to follow her!" No!
You wouldn't be inspired by your boss' fear. At best you'd feel
sorry for her, but you wouldn't be inspired by her. You don't respect
someone whose life, whose career, and whose decisions are based on fear.
I learned that from my great aunt.
Auntie was never married and lived in a small town of five hundred
people. The town had one hardware store, one grocery store, and five bars
-- like a lot of towns in Wisconsin. Auntie owned the hardware store.
When I was a kid of six, ten,
twelve years of age, I would go live with Auntie, because she let me work in
the store. I loved it. I waited on the farmers, packaged up
the bolts and nails, and played with the cash register. I felt grown-up.
As I got older, I began to feel
sorry for Auntie. Auntie was a full-blooded Norwegian, which was not the
part I felt sorry for. She spoke Norwegian. In fact everyone in
town spoke Norwegian. They ate all the ethnic foods of lutefisk and
lefse. What I felt sorry for was her tiny, restricted comfort zone.
All her life Auntie kept saying "I want to go to Norway. I
want to see my cousin in Norway. I want to travel. I want to see
the United States." The truth is, Auntie never went anywhere. Even
though she had plenty of money and could have afforded to travel, even though
she had no husband or kids holding her back, even though she had employees who
could have watched the store, Auntie always had her excuses.
I encouraged her to go. I
had gone to Norway at age 18, had hitchhiked through the country, and had met
her relatives. I kept saying, "Auntie, you'd love it. Your
relatives are wonderful. So welcoming. The scenery is awesome.
You'd love it. Go for it."
But Auntie always had her excuses.
She would say she was a single woman and had no one to take her. So
I suggested she go with one of her Norwegian friends in town, but she replied
that they had their husbands, their kids, and they couldn't pack up and leave.
I suggested she go with a tour group, saying she wouldn't be alone then.
She said, "Yeah. There are tour groups, but you never know the
weirdos you meet in those groups." A couple of times I almost had
her convinced to go, but she would reply, "What if the furnace would go
out? What if the water pipes would freeze? Who would pick up the
mail at the post office?" Excuse after excuse.
Do you know anyone like that?
Someone who's always got an excuse, someone who's always saying why it
won't work or why they can't take the risk? Certainly you can love people
like that. I loved Auntie. We got along very well. But I'm
also saying that you don't respect people like that. You feel sorry for
those who waste their lives, afraid of
taking a risk.
In a similar sense, if you're
stuck in your comfort zone, you are losing the respect of others. You are
hurting if not killing off some of the more important relationships in your
life. You're paying a price you can't afford to pay.
In short, if you want more of
anything in life, you'll find it outside your comfort zone. But if you
refuse to take a risk ... if you refuse to leave your comfort zone ... just
remember you won't get a free ride in life. It will damage your mental
health and your relational health. Are you sure you want to do that?
What are two constructive risks
you can and need to take? When are you going to do it?
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About the author:
As a best-selling author and Hall of Fame professional
speaker, Dr. Alan Zimmerman is focused on "transforming the people side of
business.” His keynotes and seminars are noted for high content, high energy,
and high involvement that transform people's lives and the companies where they
To learn more about his programs and products, or to
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