8 things you should learn from Bilbo Baggins about risk

Bilbo was a carefree little Hobbit living in a luxurious Hobbit-hole as a wealthy bachelor. While still young he gave a vibe of unadventurous and respectable hobbit. He has achieved a measure of personal security, he is respectable, he appreciates life’s predictability, and he lives his days in comfort of the Bag End.

His life suddenly changes when Gandalf the Wizard invites him on a quest that threatens his routine — an adventure! Nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable thing. Make you late for dinner!

But despite all common sense, feeling his buried urge for some bigger purpose. Bilbo goes.

Thinking of the story over and over again, I was intrigued by the theme of risk. What are some professional and personal risks we are failing to tackle, that could benefit us greatly or make us a better person afterwards? Developing a new product? Starting a new business or changing jobs? Ending toxic relationships? Traveling the world?

Let’s see what we can learn from Bilbo’s story.

1. We all appreciate comfort, but crave for adventure

He found himself wondering at times, especially in the autumn, about the wild lands, and strange visions of mountains that he had never seen came into his dreams.

Even though he lived good life in a big house and was much admired and respected by his neighbors, Bilbo was always curious and eager about the news from outside world.

We do the same, always dreaming of new possibilities, aspiring for new achievements. We posses this DNA that begs us to explore the unknown.

The world is not in your books and maps, it’s out there.

2. We are rarely prepared when starting

Certainty of death. Small chance of success. What are we waiting for?

Generally, people are more prepared to handle whatever comes their way than they give themselves credit. Some people think that ‘being ready’ means being absolutely prepared for everything that lays ahead. That time will never come. Stop putting of getting started with your new business, new relationships, traveling the world or whatever is your ultimate vision. Stop tweaking and revising. What you have and know is probably enough to get started.

3. Other people’s perceiving of our abilities can be insightful

I have chosen Mr. Baggins and that ought to be enough for all of you. If I say he is a Burglar, a Burglar he is, or will be when the time comes. There is a lot more in him than you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself.

Whatever it is that you want to accomplish in life, you need someone who is going to kick start you on the path to achieve it. We need people in our corner who can offer honesty and help us during those inevitable times when we doubt ourselves, by showing us the clear image. Maybe that person is your mentor who is going to streamline your learning process and keep you from making mistakes they went through.

4. Our possibilities are limited by fear

The truth is that the world is full of dragons, and none of us are as powerful or cool as we’d like to be. And that sucks. But when you’re confronted with that fact, you can either crawl into a hole and quit, or you can get out there, take off your shoes, and Bilbo it up.

-Patrick Rothfuss

Fear kills dreams. Fear kills hope. Fear can hold you back from doing something you know within yourself you are capable of doing. It whispers in our ear that dreams and possibilities are beyond consideration because pursuing them will risk our comfort and security. It can make us late for dinner!

Don’t let fear rule your life.

Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.

5. Having team to support you is indispensable

I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.

Involving people on an important quest is motivational. Never underestimate people. Their views can enhance everything. It nearly always takes a diverse team like Bilbo’s companions, enthusiastic about the mission to reclaim their homeland from a deadly dragon, committed to giving their all, and willing to protect each other in the process.

6. When fully committed, we often find hidden reservoirs of strength we never knew about

The board is set, the pieces are moving. We come to it at last, the great battle of our time.

Bilbo’s fight with the giant spiders was not the first time he reached deep within himself to muster bravery and commitment to defend what was important to him.

It is good to remember this when you are having a bad day, or a bad month, and you feel like your world is closing in on you. If you dig deep, you will find resources you didn’t know you have. We are all born survivors. We have all been through challenges and battles, getting smarter, stronger and braver along the way.

Your time will come. You will face the same Evil, and you will defeat it.

7. It’s not the destination that is most important, but the journey

Home is behind, the world ahead. And there are many paths to tread. Through shadow, to the edge of night. Until the stars are all alight.

When his journey ended Bilbo was a changed man. Throughout his travels he was faced with difficult decisions, monumental challenges, opportunities to prove himself and protect those around him…

The truth is, no matter how much you achieve, accomplish, and acquire in life… there is always something more to be gained. You’ll never “reach” your final destination. Far too many people put off what really matters in pursuit of the things they want to achieve. They neglect things like enjoying friends. Nurturing relationships. Forgiving enemies. Experiencing peace. Enjoying life.

8. So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings

It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer.

You can’t just hope for happy endings, you have to believe in them. And wait for them. Because they never come in the middle of the story. Just keep battling.

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