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Taking risks is hair-raising but will move you into a bigger world.  Embrace more of the unfamiliar, unpredictable, and uncontrollable to make a bigger positive impact on those around you.  Here’s how.

Taking risks is hair-raising but will move you into a bigger world.  Embrace more of the unfamiliar, unpredictable, and uncontrollable to make a bigger positive impact on those around you.  Here’s how.

If you are like most humans, you love the Big 3—the familiar, predictable, and controllable.  The craving for these three environmental qualities is primal, instinctual, and natural.  Moving outside of the Big 3 feels risky. While taking risks may be daunting, it’s the key to unlocking a larger, more fulfilling world. By embracing the unfamiliar, unpredictable, and uncontrollable, you can significantly impact those around you. Let’s explore how this can be a catalyst for personal growth.  Here’s how your attachment to these things helps and limits you.

You feel safer with the Big 3 in place, and safety means survival.  Our cave-dwelling ancestors were especially attuned to the familiar versus the unfamiliar.  If their senses picked up something unfamiliar, they went on the alert and prepared for fight or flight to survive the threat – real or perceived.  Though the unfamiliar can feel scary, novel and interesting things reside in the unfamiliar.

When you cling to the Big 3, you may feel less stressed and more in control. However, this also means less opportunity for growth and learning. True adventure lies beyond predictability and control, and it’s there that you’ll find the most potential for personal growth.

Holding on to the Big 3 too deeply can limit your relationship with those around you who you judge as “different.”  Out of a desire for the familiar and predictable, you may avoid them, their ideas, and their ways of being.  Trying to control their ideas and ways will annoy them and frustrate you.  But, if you take the risk, you can learn from them as you could nowhere else.

Even in the best of times, we rarely get the measure of the Big 3 we want.  In this volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world environment, we are getting increasingly less of the Big 3 and more stress.

While a measure of the Big 3 is necessary for a sense of stability, holding on too tightly can lead to a lack of interest, discovery, and growth. It’s a delicate balance, but finding it will ensure a life filled with learning, creativity, and achievement.

Anytime you move away from what is familiar, predictable, and seems controllable, it will feel risky. The risk is that goals, processes, and ways of living and relating will change, which is always a challenging, stressful experience. You must be willing to risk giving up a larger measure of the Big 3, inviting growth, if you want to achieve your potential in making a positive difference in your world.

You can take steps now to make a real difference when you act to:

Embrace the unfamiliar.

  • Be curious. Curiosity is a key to happiness and learning and is the doorway to achievement.
  • Be a learner. Be open to the possibility that there is still something you can learn about the skills, concepts, attitudes, methods, experiences, and ways of being in which you are currently most confident, comfortable, and possibly stuck.  You can be more, see more, and achieve more — always.
  • Open up to other perspectives. Discuss your ideas with others, especially those with experience related to your ideas/plans and who may be affected by your decisions and actions. Be sure to include someone who will healthily disagree with you.

Relinquish predictability and control.

  • Be courageous. Failure is rarely fatal.  Sometimes, taking action is scary because the path and outcome are unfamiliar. Use your head and experiment.  Be adventurous.  If it doesn’t work, you will have learned one more way not to do it (along with Thomas Edison, who reportedly said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”)
  • Use a SWOT analysis to examine Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats as you prepare for action.
  • Don’t be dumb. In his seminary teaching about congregational leadership, a professor friend regularly admonished his students, “Don’t be dumb.”  Be sure the risk is well-assessed and acceptable, and don’t do something dumb.

Do something new or in a new way, on purpose.

  • When you have done your research and due diligence.
  • Take baby steps as needed to move courageously toward your goal.

I live these principles regularly, and I challenge you to try them.

What would it require of you to be “riskier” to be more, see more, and achieve more?

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