Risk and the all or nothing mindset

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately. In part, because I’m looking at what I want to do for the Operation Move podcast, but mostly because I’m just really enjoying them. I learn by hearing, so it’s somewhat miraculous to me that I’m only just discovering that I love podcasts. It’s probably because I hate talky radio. Mainly because the vast majority of it is awful. It’s either right wing talk back or celebrity fawning and I really don’t care for that.

Because I have a rather linear mind, I can’t just start in the middle of a podcast I have to go back and start at the beginning, which means I’m often listening to things that are several years old (to start with anyway).

A couple of things I’ve been listening to are StartUp (Season 2) and the Jillian Michaels Show. Which you would think have absolutely nothing in common, but you’d be wrong. Jillian was talking about risk and how to be successful you had to be comfortable with risk and failing. And her counterpart was trying to argue that for some people life is risky enough and why does there have to be a huge premium on being stratospherically successful, when you could just be happy. In the second Season of StartUp, you had women running an online dating company and they were facing the problem that a lot of people do — which is how do you scale a business that relies heavily on personnel to turn it into a business worth hundreds of millions of dollars. And it really focused on the soul crushing nature of fundraising in general.

If you haven’t listened to it, I won’t spoil it too much. But I think one of the interesting parts was how much of your original idea, that is actually original, are you willing to sacrifice to the whims of the market. And also, do you really want a huge company or do you actually want a lifestyle business, with modest growth that’s successful enough to support the people who work there.

I think it’s human nature to think that big is better. To have the approach of high risk, high reward. And if something is good on a small scale, it has to be even better on a large scale.

Sometimes, we take that approach with running and fitness as well. Either you are going to be a super-buff coconut water drinking machine or you are going to sit on your couch and eat ice cream. The scary thing about change isn’t that we think we can’t, it’s that we know that we can. And changing your life is a big risk. But it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing risk.

The greatest risk people take when they start something like Learn to Run, is that it will ultimately prove all of the worst possible things they think about themselves. All the horrible, dark things that they say to themselves that they would never even say out loud. Because if they fail, it proves that they were right about themselves all along. The risk in that is terrifying. But to everyone else, outside of that, it doesn’t even look risky at all.

You don’t have to run a marathon or an ultra-marathon just because that’s the hardest thing you can think of. But in some ways, you do have to be prepared to fail. You do need to learn how to fail. Because you will fail. And either that can propel you forward, or it can hold you back.