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A How-To Guide for Getting Into Trouble

by F. Daniel Harbecke Sep 30, 2010
5. You enter an adventure through the threshold of fear.

Fear can be headier than whiskey, once man has acquired a taste for it. – Donald Downes

The first step in any risk is to confront the fear of doing it; even something as relatively minor as public embarrassment requires courage. Risk is always accompanied by fear, or else it wouldn’t be recognized as a risk.

Example: Tina volunteered to give a lecture, even though the idea made her want to vomit.

6. The profit is not always the point.

It is when we all play safe that we create a world of utmost insecurity. – Dag Hammarskjöld

Sometimes the whole point of the risk is to prove the ability to break away from the conventional life. This is often forgotten, particularly if the risk meets in failure. Risk is an affirmation of the power to choose as an individual, and should be honored as such.

Example: Buying the plane ticket for Tanzania depleted most of Don’s savings. And he didn’t care.

7. In vicarious experience, ask what it is you find specifically appealing.

People are living vicariously through others, to be sure. As much as they hate it…they get to live that through seeing it. – Leif Garrett

When we enjoy the adventures of friends or family from a safe distance, we often wish we could do something similar. Take some time to ask yourself what makes their exploits so enticing – there may be something missing in your life that this level of experience would fulfill.

Example: Reading his brother’s missives in Maui, Steve realized how much he hated living stateside.

8. The victory from a chosen risk is always sweetest.

Beating the system is the ultimate rush. – Ice-T

Finding ourselves in a predicament isn’t the same as choosing ourselves a predicament. Escaping danger is exhilarating, but the excitement of finding new territory – even if it’s new only for you – is wholly unparalleled.

Example: Sure, it was Disneyland. But for Timmy, it was DISNEYLAND!

9. Whether you win or lose, all risk has an up-front cost.

Remember: any path which narrows future possibilities threatens to become a trap. – Frank Herbert

There will be resistance immediately after going counter to the mainstream, and the most withering hurdles come from people we love and respect. Don’t tune them out – but understand that each of us has a choice to follow our gut or follow our mind.

Example: Stepping out on the ledge to rescue his kitten Buttons, Carlos knew he had no other choice.

10. In the classroom of risk, be sure to learn the correct lesson.

We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it – and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again – and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore. – Mark Twain

Example: Sarah refused to open another paperweight store again.

11. Sharing a risk can mend a bridge or forge a bond.

To love is not to look at one another, but to look together in the same direction. – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Holding a danger in common, taking equal part in a thrilling undertaking, can bring two completely dissimilar people together like nothing else. Though the choice of risk is individual, there’s no law that says it must be faced alone.

Example: Usually, Mark and Phyllis hated each others’ guts. But when the fire started in the breakroom, they evacuated the office as smoothly as an Indy pit crew – and started dating soon afterward.

12. Where there is chance, there is life.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist is nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing. – Helen Keller

Without risk, there is no growth: no movement, no strengthening, no struggle – no love – in life. Life shrivels and decays without a test. Many admirable feats are accomplished through the call of a cause, but often all that is required is a whisper of curiosity.

In the end, the difference between living and existing is the ability to choose the conditions of how we meet our world. Know the limits to break them. You make the example.

What’s your process for taking risks? Share them below.

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