On nearly my 48th birthday I did something a little crazy—I jumped out of a plane at 14,000 feet, yep more than 2 ½ miles straight up and then—straight down at 120 miles an hour. I’d wanted to do that for 25 years but money, time, guilt over having small kids, fear, (life) got in the way.
Coincidently, I’d just read an interesting piece put together by a Pastor about taking chances. The Readers Digest version: you’re going to fall if you try surfing, in fact you expect that you’ll fall, but the ride is worth the risk. That dove tails nicely with jumping out of a plane, you will fall, but the ride was nothing short of absolutely amazing…
Every one of us fears failure, some more than others. During my career I’ve had my inventory taken with more than one assessment tool. Meyers Briggs, Colors, DISC to name a few. There are a million ways to analyze your personal risk profile. But regardless of where you fall in any assessment, there are many facets to risk and risk taking beyond your overall investment strategy or a chosen career path.
In order to succeed at anything we have to be willing to fail. At some juncture in any career you will fail, it might be your fault or just wrong place wrong time, but it’s unavoidable. But at the end of the day, as cliché as it sounds, we really do learn more from our mistakes than our successes, if we’re willing. And we also learn that failure hurts but only for a moment…
I can’t say that I learned anything from jumping out of a plane. But I did learn that
I’m not too old to take a risk. I was turned away 3 times in the past 12 months due to bad weather—might have been a sign not to do it (my husband’s opinion), or a challenge that required some perseverance. Anything worth experiencing is worth a fight.
So back to surfing—according to Srinivas Rao (The Surfers Guide to Taking Risks), there is a strong correlation between success and the tolerance for risk in an ocean and life, but both environments require the same process.
Get in the water
You can’t catch a wave unless you get in the water. So stop watching other people from the shore and get in the game. Living vicariously through others is not really living (it’s like watching TV).
Understand and accept fear
You have to push through rough water in order to even get to the point of facing the wave. Everyone is afraid, some people are just better at not showing it than others. Fear is fine, it creates adrenaline but it shouldn’t paralyze you. In the ocean or a start-up, freezing up can kill you, so just move forward.
Go for it
Like life, waves are totally unpredictable, making them thrilling and terrifying at the same time. Don’t let doubt keep you from making a good calculated decision.
Embrace the doubt and go for it.
Nothing in life is guaranteed, and even with a solid plan, success is still a function of many factors that are way out of your control. The perfect wave can crumble, and the perfect idea can fail due to sales issues or implementation struggles. But, the more waves you go for, the more you’ll catch. Assume things will change and get better at adjusting and continuing the ride.
Enjoy the bliss
Any surfer will tell you that when you stand up on your board something magical happens, the universe aligns and fear dissolves. That’s the moment where your risk pays off. For the entrepreneur that day can be your first sale, or closing on a big round of venture capital—the day that makes the effort worth it. Enjoy the win, but prep for the next challenge.
Reflect on the choice
Surfers will say that riding a wave is the greatest natural high in the world. Like skydiving you are forced to be totally present by fear, excitement and the thrill of the ride. When you take chances in business, there is a calm after the storm of doubt when you know you’ve got something and for right now, there’s a market for it. When work becomes something less than work and well, a joy, then you know you’re right where you should be. There’s tremendous peace in loving what you do.
Do it again
After you catch your first wave, you become overcome by a sense of confidence. You realize what your capable of and you become interested in defying your limits again! It’s why entrepreneurs never start just one company. Bolstered with confidence you become willing to live your life differently, knocking back that bucket list—living with no regrets.
Wipeouts are part of surviving, business and life, but the fear of them shouldn’t make us avoid taking chances. Fear never controls a life well lived.
Take a look at the article: Surfers Guide to Taking Risk