This poem from William Arthur Ward was shared with me recently and I wanted to pass it on. It’s about looking at risk from a different angle–that every day is filled with risks of varying degrees, and that we can learn to live with them and mitigate them through action and attitude.
To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow,
But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.
Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.
The pessimist complains about the wind;
The optimist expects it to change;
And the realist adjusts the sails.
Is it just me, or is it a common tendency to focus too much on the failure side of risk? Risk just means that there is a “chance” for failure. But there is also a “chance” for success. So while we’re at it, let’s also reframe “failure”. What if, instead of the outcomes being “succeed or fail”, the outcomes were “succeed or learn”? In other words, there is no failure. The outcomes are only success or learning. This limits “failure” to either, A) not learning from our trying, or B) quitting, or C) not trying at all.
So, whether it’s pursuing your dream job or asking for a promotion, or maybe even starting that business you’ve been thinking about, don’t let fear of risk chain you to the shores of comfort and safety any longer. The adventure is “across the sea”. Go find it! And be excited and encouraged to know that you can always adjust the sails as you learn!
For your advantage,