R is for Risk



Risk is more than just the roll of the dice or placing a bet that you may lose. Too much risk and you lose everything or windup feeling defeated. Just the right amount of risk can lift you out of the doldrums and liven up your life. In turn, taking daily risks can make your life all the better and help you to appreciate what life is all about. It can also strengthen you for the days of unexpected risks.


I see it in the eyes of my children and many others. Risk is something to do after school, in a video game or by biting into a chili pepper. They’re small risks, but they’re manageable. But risk is often a dirty word or a scary one. In schools, risk isn’t looked upon as growth, but instead, as something to be avoided at all costs. It’s much safer to get that comfortable A than take a chance and do something different which may jeopardize it. Mistakes are brutal for our kids and perfection is often much more highly valued. Too bad none of us can really achieve it. Perfectionism strangles lots of gifted kids. Many children can’t live up to the A game, so they may choose to opt out of the game altogether. That is a risk that education is taking and losing.


“One reason many students are reluctant to take risks is the fact that our classrooms have such a strong evaluation component. They are afraid that if they make an error in class, it will affect their grade. Therefore, it would be useful to separate the learning from the evaluating. Does everything assigned have to be graded?” ~Marilla Svinicki (podnetwork.org)


Recently, I purchased a book full of daily risk ideas and inspirations. Every day, I skim through it and choose a risk, or throughout the day stumble inadvertently onto a risk-taking opportunity and grab it. I’ve been working on the book so far about a month-and-a-half and I’m surprising myself because I rarely work that long-term on something without giving up (unless it’s tied to money). Somehow I’m building risk into my life every day. It’s easier than you think too.


Why would anyone purposely inject more risk into her life? Some may do it for the thrill, but if done for that reason, the thrill would quickly dissipate. At this stage of the game, I’m between careers. I’ve settled into a peaceful existence and though I have my hands in several different cookie jars right now, I also have a lull. I’m that 17 year old wondering what she’s going to do upon graduation. For me, my real challenge will come once I cease all homeschooling and re-enter the work force full time. It won’t be back to teaching in a traditional classroom which I’ve already ticked off my bucket list, and I haven’t the money to travel or go back for a doctorate, so I’m in a temporary holding pattern in which life could be dull. Instead, I’m biting off challenges. Maybe you’re at a stage in your life when a little risk would benefit you.


Challenges that come at you without your permission are a nuisance on a smaller scale and can be downright debilitating on a large scale. I’m seeking out my own challenges (some small, others much more complex), because I realize that soon I’ll be biting off the most uncomfortable, yet probably the most fulfilling challenges of my life. I plan to do life ‘my way’ very soon. For now, I’m satiating my needs in small ways that will prepare me for biting off much more grand and visionary challenges.

Baby steps.

Baby steps that are fraught with angst and a little mire, yet salvageable and not really as threatening as I believe in that moment. These challenges are scary, yet still safe. They involve no real financial trepidation, nor do they involve the lives of others. They’re mine, manageable, and yet also stretching. They make me feel empowered. I know I’ll need that in the next few years.


In the meantime, here are a few sample challenges that you may be able to bite into yourself. After all, couldn’t your super powers use a boost?

  • “The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them.”- Alfred Hitchcock
    Title of my scary film: (Now, go make a film confronting your fears.)
  • Katagelophobia- the fear of ridicule
    Today I did something ridiculous: 
  • Dare to drop off the grid for a day (choose one):
    No phone
    No email
    No social media
    No internet
    No tv
    No radio
    No news
    No clock
    No __________________________
    What happened?  (BTW, I’d choose the most difficult one wherever possible!) 
  • “If you are not failing now and again, it’s a sign you’re playing it safe.” ~Woody Allen
    How I took a chance and failed today: 



I hope I didn’t fail with this blog post, but the good news is that if I did, at least I took the chance. What chances have you taken lately? How have you added a little risk and a lot of growth into your life?


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