Famous author and poet Erica Jong once said, “If you don’t risk anything, you risk even more”.
I really love that statement because it boldly counterattacks every excuse against taking risks.
By not taking risks, you are not giving yourself any opportunities for growth. And if you are not growing, you are dying. You can’t just stay where you are. In life, you are either moving forward, or you are falling backwards.
The only way to move forward is to take risks and chances. And taking risks, whether it leads to failure or success, by default puts you in the moving forward category, because you are learning and growing.
I am currently reading John C. Maxwell’s book Failing Forward, where he shares his world class advice on using mistakes as a way of learning and turning them into stepping stones for success.
This book is all about taking risks, welcoming failure into your life, and using that failure to learn and grow, so you eventually see extraordinary success.
The concept of this book revolves around the idea that “success is hidden behind a pile of failure that you must work your way through”.
The only way to find success is to consistently be putting yourself out there and taking the risks that present you opportunities. But many people are afraid of risk. They get into their head and think risk is some big scary monster that they should avoid. People like it where it’s safe.
What I’m talking about are the common mind traps that individuals fall into when facing a possible risky decision. The best thing to do is to not think about it at all, and just take the risk regardless.
Here are John C. Maxwell’s 4 common traps to avoid when considering a risk:
1. The Embarrassment Trap
Nobody wants to look like an idiot. And by taking a bold risk, you just may put yourself out there too much and fall flat on your face.
Needless to say, this is embarrassing.
Many people fear taking a chance simply because they are too afraid of looking bad or being laughed at. They see the possibility of failure and they immediately take cover and abort because they do not feel it is worth the humiliation; nothing is worth the possible humiliation.
This is a trap.
This is a bad trap. Because deep-down, nobody really cares. If you are to fall flat on your face and fail, the amount of people that actually care enough to point out your stupidity is going to be extremely small. And these people do not matter!
Don’t let yourself fall into the embarrassment trap. It will hold you back from taking the chances you must take to accomplish your goals.
Embarrassment is all in your head, and it is not something that should be used as rationalization for taking cover and hiding.
Which brings me to…
2. The Rationalization Trap
This is the person who second-guesses every decision they make. I personally must fight this urge every single day.
When presented with a risky opportunity, they look for every ounce of rationalization to take the chance. Or better yet, they look for every ounce of rationalization to NOT take the chance.
Because NOT taking the chance is much, much easier.
This once again, is a trap.
Searching for too much rationalization is never a good idea. You will always find plenty of reasons NOT to take a risk, but only a few really amazing reasons to take the risk.
Ask yourself if those amazing reasons are worth it to you personally. If so, stop listening to the negative rationalization by focusing on the positives that taking this chance could provide you.
The person who rationalizes tends to rationalize at all stages. That is, once they make the decision to take one risk, they constantly think about whether they made the right decision, instead of putting their energy towards acting upon that decision. (This is a problem I have!)
Avoid negative rationalization, and just act.
3. The Timing Trap
Some people think there’s a perfect time to do everything; there’s not.
This is a common excuse used by heavy procrastinators. They sit around and tell themselves they are going to act, but just not yet because the time is not right, and they believe there will be a better time in the future.
You don’t know if there will be a better time in the future, and the perfect time certainly does not exist…ever.
So don’t wait for the perfect time, because you’ll be waiting forever. Just act now!
In his book, Maxwell quotes Jim Stovall, who said “Don’t wait for all the lights to be green before you leave the house”.
4. The Inspiration Trap
This is the ultimate excuse of procrastination.
Many people will fall into the trap of waiting for inspiration to be bestowed upon them before taking a risk. They want the perfect idea or the perfect moment to happen before they go out and do something chancy.
This is a mistake that we often fall into during everyday life. It’s the lazy man’s excuse for not working.
“I’m just not feeling it right now”, is a common thought.
What they are really saying, is that they don’t feel inspired to work at the moment. But only working when inspired is not going to be nearly enough work logged to get anything done.
Winners work regardless. And winners don’t wait for the right moment of inspiration before taking a risky action and moving forward.
“When you get an insight or inspiration, do something about it in 24 hours – or the odds are against you ever acting on it”
In other words, don’t wait to act on your idea; waiting means never.
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