Monday, June 29, 2009

Taking Risk

During my University years, like most students, all I wanted was to travel as soon as I graduated. I wanted to do something thrilling, something risky that included a level of uncertainty, something dangerous, something some might call crazy. I wanted adventure like what you would read in Lord of the Rings, Treasure Island or Swiss Family Robinson. I wanted to hop a freight train across Canada. This blog is not meant to showcase the adventure I had but the feelings I had leading up to and taking that risk. Before embarking on my solo train-hopping mission I was filled with excitement. Like anyone who plans on doing something out of the ordinary there is anticipation within us that creates great levels of enthusiasm. The feeling we get when we know we are about to do doing something that is both new and in line with our goals creates an energy or gusto that pushes us forward in pursuit of it.

Before hopping on the freight train I spent months at the railroad tracks watching trains, talking to the operators, researching maps and books to give me more confidence before the big jump. I was so excited to just take off and hit the open road away from the predicable routines of school, work and home. As the day came closer I started to recognize a new feeling inside of me. I was beginning to feel very nervous. My nervousness started to get the best of me, as I did not trust that I was going to follow through with my plan let alone even be excited anymore. I was confused and though I was still doing the research and planning, I doubted myself.

The feeling of nervousness that comes before doing something bigger than you are use to is something we have all experienced. Whether moving to a new city, taking that new job, starting a business or hopping a freight train, it is a feeling we have all come face to face with and it is a sign that we are taking a risk. The definition of risk suggests that injury, damage or loss can happen when we take them. Risk therefore brings a level of uncertainty with it that makes us question whether or not we should continue to move forward. Yet when we take risks, some of the most memorable experiences and greatest outcomes can occur. Without taking risks, we never truly experience the exhilaration and thrill of success and achievement. As it stands, anything worth achieving comes with some sort of pain or discomfort and that means taking a risk.

Embrace the nervousness that is experienced before big change and big adventures and understand it means you are about to embark on an endeavor involving risk. Risk is good but don’t confuse it with that of gambling. Gambling is an unnecessary risk where negative outcomes are harder to minimize and the chances of being successful are not as great. If you want to succeed in risk taking then take the steps to better prepare for it. Gather information, research, ask questions, develop a strategy/plan and then follow through with action. Just as important, don't let your external conditions decide if it's worth taking risks. Many of us do this. We decide not to pursue a new job, because of the competition or we choose not to start our own business, because a similar business already exists.

I got through the nervous feeling I had before hopping the train by knowing that I had prepared well and had a plan. The combination of being prepared along with the nervous excitement I was experiencing was a feeling so potent that it created confidence in my abilities to succeed. We all can achieve our dreams no matter what the adventure. Great things are not easy to make happen and in most cases require us to take risks. Trust in yourself to take these risks and get what you truly want out of life.

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