When you look at the phrase, risk taker, what does it evoke in you?
Fear? Irresponsibility? Crazy?
Typically, we think about risks in terms of physical ones- athletes at the X Games- rushing down a mountain and flying over a jump. Or we think of people who take monetary risks, like gamblers betting insane amounts of money at the casino.
Risk takers are often seen as thrill seekers or irresponsible.
Yet most business people, especially entrepreneurs, are risk takers, too. If not for them, we wouldn’t have boutiques, microbreweries, smartphones and on and on...
There are healthy risks and unhealthy risks, so it’s about identifying how comfortable you are with risks – in every area of your life.
In 2004, I decided to start a school in the small town where I live. I’d been working in education for a decade, having taught at an international school in Hong Kong as well as a private school in Santa Monica, California. I also had two small children and wanted the best school for them.
I had no money so I took out a home equity loan on my house, found a church willing to rent classroom space and leapt. When I told my father my plan, he said; “Why don’t you just get a job at the local public school?”
His response was indicative of his comfort with risk, especially in the financial/business arena.
People are risk takers athletically, financially but also emotionally. And in my work, I’ve come to see how people can be healthy emotional risk takers.
What is that?
Being an emotional risk taker means that you’re willing to move beyond your comfort zone, willing to push through areas that cause emotional pain or a belief that is limiting you.
If you’re ready to be a healthy emotional risk taker, here are the qualities to foster:
1. Open Mindedness
There’s a great Louise Hay affirmation where she talks about having a flexible mind. She says: “Just as living in a flexible body is more comfortable, so is living in a flexible mind.”
Think about open mindedness as the willingness to question. Is what you know, how you do something the only answer or is there another way to view it or do it?
2. Look at Things Differently
Once you open your mind and consider other options, then you get to decide. Our lives are an accumulation of our choices. The only thing blocking you is your mind and your willingness to try something else. What would it take for you to decide differently?
3. Quality of Fearlessness
This is the idea that you do it anyway. Lets face it, we’re all scared, but do you let the fear stop you or do you just go for it?
You can foster fearlessness by stepping out of your comfort zone. Speak those words of truth to a loved one, make that phone call to your parent, send that inquiry email.
Do it anyway. Even though you’re scared, even though you don’t want to, even though it feels uncomfortable.
Many of us are afraid of failure and so we don’t push ourselves. But the only way to grow is to move beyond the familiar.
4. Impervious to Judgment
For many years, I worried about what other people thought of me. Did they like me? Was I doing what they wanted me to do? Until I realized that I was living my life for me, not for anyone else.
And honestly, why did I care what anyone else thought? I was letting that fear of being judged hamper my willingness to follow my dreams, to speak my truth.
Emotional risk takers are willing to do the hard work of digging in. They want to understand their behavior, how it negatively impacts them and are willing to look at things differently.
If an old pattern isn’t working anymore, are you willing to try another way?
Often the only way to do this is to walk through the pain.
One of my client’s marriage was falling apart. Together, we worked on her healing but that meant that she had to be willing to feel the sorrow and grief, to mourn the relationship. And we also created a plan of self care for her.
Alternatively, instead of walking through that pain, she could’ve remained stuck, entrenched in a lifestyle that was no longer serving her. She was miserable but because it was familiar, it felt comfortable.
Yet she chose to be a healthy emotional risk taker, to re-examine her life, her assumptions and beliefs. Doing this enabled her to choose again and re-create her life to really serve her as she is now.
After all, we always have the opportunity to go through life or grow through life. Being a healthy emotional risk taker enables you to embrace and grow in your life right now.