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The Importance of Taking Risks

Updated: Oct 25, 2018

What does it mean to take risks? And how are you supposed to judge risk tolerance when every individual comes to the table with a completely different set of experiences and ways of emotionally and logically processing information? Technically, anything new you are trying has some modicum of risk associated with it. As we talked about last week, perspective is key and understanding where people come from is an important element which influences how people react…especially when it comes to taking risks.

Now that I’ve said risk about 5,000 times in the first paragraph (maybe that was a risky choice…see what I did there? lol), let’s talk about why taking risks is important. I read a blog post recently that talked about the risks scientists take when attempting to discover something new. The post talked about how history tends to focus on the areas that were successful as opposed to the journey it took to get there. This leads us to believe that everything was sunshine and roses leading up to the big ‘aha’ moment, but really that’s not the case at all and it's important we keep this in mind!

During the first period of a man's life, the greatest danger is not to take the risk. - Soren Kierkegaard

Risk-taking is a messy, but critical part of life…especially early on. A quote I stumbled upon while reading about how we can help children take risks states, “during the first period of a man’s life, the greatest danger is not to take the risk.” Taking risks teaches us so many things about ourselves and others…it teaches us to respond to the world, teaches us when and how to protect ourselves, teaches us about things we like and dislike. Without risk, we may never experience life to its full extent.

This same article addresses the importance of practicing taking good risks and ways we can encourage children to put themselves out there. They highlight four key steps to taking good risks:

  1. Identify the risk – physical, emotional, social or intellectual, or a combination of factors.

  2. Stay aware of the potential dangers, and benefits, of moving forward or staying still.

  3. Think through one’s actions.

  4. Evaluate one’s actions afterwards.

The evaluate piece really stands out to me as critical for success because reflection allows us to celebrate success, but also learn from things that were challenging. As the blog I mentioned noticed, history usually celebrates success and ignores the others risks not pursued in full. We need both types of celebrations to grow and ultimately this can help us build confidence in children from an early age and help them grow into thoughtful leaders.

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