Think of something you love in your life. Now, consider what you risked to create it. You had to take a chance, right? There’s that moment when you make a decision, jump in and hold your breath. It’s a brave thing to live. And yet, the alternative is so bleak. Playing it safe will keep you alive, but it’s hardly living. Even when we risk and make mistakes, we experience new things and learn from them. It’s like a cute puppy you can’t resist taking home. She wakes you up nightly at 5am and chews up your best shoes. What a pain in the ass! Yet, the adorable pup brings out a nurturing side of you, adding more laughter, playfulness and love in your life. How’s the return on your investment? Immeasurable.
When I was a kid, my dad had a bumper sticker on the back of his black Oldsmobile Tornado. It was yellow with big black letters that spelled out Go For It! And that he did. His particular brand of risk was creative strategy in law and business. He’s a legend to those who worked with him, for his complex, innovative and lucrative endeavors. Meanwhile, my mom discreetly went for want she wanted as well. When she was told she couldn’t have children, she decided to adopt. Then she suddenly became pregnant with her first child and went on to have three of us. She also wrote, directed and starred in her own plays and musicals. Go role models! I remember as a child telling my mother I was scared to sing a solo in front of an audience. Quite detached from my aspirations, not wanting to be a “stage mom,” she tossed off matter-of-factly, “Honey, if I didn’t do anything that scared me, I wouldn’t have done anything in my life.” How empowering! I not only learned to go for it, I learned that it’s going to be scary and that it’s up to me.
As a parent myself now, I quietly grit my teeth as my sons take chances. Sometimes it pays off. Sometimes it’s an “epic fail.” The team they don’t make. The play they don’t get cast in. Yet, they are solid men-in-the-making. Despite the ups and downs of trying things, the foundation of who they are and what really matters holds them steady. These experiences add to who they are and expose them to success, failure and risk-taking. As they fearlessly test their limits, they grow and learn, no matter what the outcome. As their parents, we continue to do the same as well. A high school student I guest taught recently said, “My advice? Get yourself a Ted Talk.” My initial feeling was, “No way would I put myself through that.” And internally, I’m left to flirt with the possibility, like a dare. After all, it’s not about me and my ego or personal struggles. It’s about spreading the word about D-I-Y Spirituality to help “Millennials,” right? Then there’s my husband, the entrepreneur. All of his skills are well suited to leading a start-up to success. And of course, that takes lots of risk up front. The safer, more secure route is something called employment. Yet, in the end, a huge number of people stand to gain from a software service that makes their lives easier. Like a good Ted Talk, one person’s bravery can benefit the masses. Think Brene Brown and Steve Jobs (watch his inspiring message below).
You are officially encouraged to “Go For It!” If there’s any hesitation, remember, it’s okay to fail. Better to make the “wrong” decision than no decision. One thing always leads to another. No matter what happens, you’ll be stronger and wiser.
Or, you could sit quietly on the sidelines and take up knitting. Yet, as those of us on the receiving end of the multi-colored, ill-fitted sweater know, even that has its risks.