The Risk of Success
Or, Sticking To Your Guns
Opportunity approaches me every day. He saunters up to me, spurs clinking against his muddy boots, pistol slung lazily at his hip. We’ve met in this street before, he and I. We’ve had this face-off before and it doesn’t always end well for me. Sometimes, though, it ends bad for him. Itching for some action, Opportunity’s dusty hands twitch at his side.
“You wanna fight, Mister?”
Overhead, the noonday sun rises high. A bead of sweat runs down my face and leaves a pale streak in its wake.
Tumbleweed rolls past on the wide, dusty road as people hurriedly hide indoors. Somewhere nearby, a single child is hushed by its mother as it lets out a muffled wail. A horse whinnies.
With my hand I reach down for the gun at my side. My feet shore themselves. Do I wanna fight?
Change. It’s always an opportunity to transform ourselves. Sometimes it’s thrust upon us by external forces. Other times we bring it upon ourselves, or seek after it.
No matter where change comes from, there is always one thing that every opportunity to change has in common: a decision.
At some moment, I will decide to either change or not to change. To do something different or to do something the same. Action or inaction, it is all a decision.
My heart beats loudly in my throat. My breath is a little shorter and faster, like a shallow rattling in my throat. Fingers tremble slightly. I was the one who decided to be here. I was the one who said I’d shoot.
The risk of success
There’s always a risk and a cost associated with change. What if it doesn’t work out? What if I make the change and it all backfires?
What if I fail again?
In making a decision we need to take those things into account. It’s important to understand, also, that those things can’t be allowed to dictate our life. For every risk of failure there is also a risk of success.
Yes, success needs to be seen as a risk. It has a cost. Success will demand some things of us and we need to ask ourselves if we’re willing to continue paying those costs of success. We need to compare those costs to the costs of not changing and see which ones we are willing to pay out.
Being anxious about what might happen is a normal experience. To be afraid of change is to be human. Being frozen by something that hasn’t happened yet, however, is an unhelpful experience. Maybe we can take the experience of anxiety and acknowledge its presence and then choose to move forward anyway.
Circumstance isn’t what freezes me in place; circumstance isn’t what drives me to inaction. It is me who freezes me in place. I am the one who chooses not to act differently or not to act at all.
And I am the one who does choose to act at all. It is I and I alone who is in charge of my decisions. And it is you and you alone who is in charge of yours.
When we choose to change, when we choose to succeed, we discover that it costs a lot. Maybe I have to get up earlier everyday to go to the gym. Or perhaps I have to organise my meals a week in advance. Or I might need to commit to actively resist defending myself every time my partner says something critical of me.
In making the decision to change, we need to assess the cost. What’s the cost of changing? What’s the cost of not changing?
What are the ebenfits of changing? What are the benefits of not changing?
And then, based on our assessment of the cost — or the risks, if you will — of change, the risks of success, I can then make a firm decision.
You can bet your bottom dollar that this fight is going to be tough. Change is a harsh task master, and demands things of us that are outside of our comfort zone. Remember, the decision to act is a firm decision; and the decision not to act is also a firm decision.
Do I pull the trigger? Do I fight this fight? Or will I freeze here because of the fear I’ll get shot?
The saloon doors swing lightly in the breeze. Dust dances across my face.
Dang it! If I don’t draw my weapon, he sure as hell will.
Opportunity stands there in front of me. Fear rises. Do I engage? Do I take the shot and grasp the moment of change? Can I make it happen?
This moment may never come again. I may never have this opportunity and I may never know what will happen if I’m afraid of what might happen.
When I choose to act, to seize this opportunity and see how it pans out, then I can see what will happen. Then I can feel a sense of power over my own destiny rather than feeling confined to the chains of my own inaction.
Opportunity and I stare at each other through squinted eyes. My heart beats loudly in my chest. Fingers twitch.
Only I can decide what to do next with my life.
I wonder, what will you decide to do next with yours?