I Still Don’t Like Taking Risks
Some time ago, I was presented with an opportunity that appeared to be a good fit for the professional direction in which I’d like to go. I spoke with the publication editor and our conversation yielded an encouraging chemistry.
We seemed to be on the same page.
However, immediately following our conversation, I noticed a bit of apprehension on my part.
I began to think ‘what if I can’t live up to the professional obligation? What if I can’t come through in the creative manner they’re looking for? What if they don’t like the final outcome of the project?’
I immediately went to all the reasons the situation could fail, and all the ways in which I could fail.
Now keep in mind, there was nothing in the aforementioned conversation that caused me to go down this path of doubt. It was classic fear of the unknown and ultimately the fear of failure.
Feeling that I needed assistance, I posed a request to the universe, “If this is a good collaborative project for me to work on, let things fall into place for me.”
Early the next morning during the pre-dawn hours, I had the following dream.
First things first, I cannot swim. Drowning is one of my biggest fears. Whenever I have a dream that involves a large body of water, specifically the possibility of me being submerged in water, I’m terrified.
In my dream, it was a beautiful and clear sunny day. I stood at the edge of a cliff overlooking a sea that stretched out as far as my eyes could see. There were no waves, no boats, and no one swimming, only the deep blue calm of water and the glistening sunlight.
As I took in the beauty of the sea, I held onto a Nikon camera. The camera had a zoom lens attached that pointed outward, as if to show the direction in which I should focus my attentions
The next thing I knew, without any feelings of hesitation or fear, I took a deep breath and jumped off the cliff into the water down below. Now, let me clarify that this is something I would NEVER do, but here I was.
In the dream not only did I jump off the cliff into the water, but during my free-fall I captured several photos of unknown viewpoints I would have never seen had I not jumped.
It seemed as though I got my answer.
According to I Had the Strangest Dream…The Dream Dictionary of the 21st Century, “To dream that you are jumping indicates that you need to take a risk and go for it. You will overcome your obstacles and find progress toward your goals. Consider the metaphors “jumping for joy” to mean thrill and excitement or “jumping the gun” to mean impatience or impulsiveness. The way you feel in the dream will provide additional significance and meaning to your dream. To dream that you fail to jump or are afraid to jump indicates that you fear uncertainty. You do not like change.”
Harvey is saying that you have to be willing to take a risk. Let me repeat “be willing to take a risk.”
Now I know that sounds simple, because it is. It’s both simple and yet ridiculously difficult. How exactly does one “jump”?
How do you take the advice to “jump” toward something you’d like to create and apply it to your life?
It’s a lot easier to read about risk, to talk about it, or to hit the ‘Like’ button and encourage someone else to “go for it” while you sit and watch. However, it’s an entirely different thing when you are the person being called to “jump” towards a desired outcome with all your fears in tow.
I personally don’t like taking risks. In fact, I really dislike the idea of doing something so completely outside of my comfort zone that I literally have to talk myself through e-a-c-h and e-v-e-r-y step.
Since deciding to embrace the creative (and gloriously uncertain) world of writing, what I’ve come to accept is that my professional experience seems to hover in a perpetual state of risk navigation, my aversion to risk and my willingness to grow in the midst of discomfort.
As a writer, author and ghostwriter, I “jump” every time I:
- Reach out to someone I professionally admire to request an interview.
- Submit writing to editors and agents who more often reject than accept.
- Hit ‘Post’ and ‘Submit’ and subject my writing to witty internet readers, reviewers and (goodness help me) commenters.
- Spend dedicated time writing, editing, and creating a book that may never be published or even read.
- Accept “…that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised and misunderstood.”
With each and every “jump” I’ve also noticed the discomfort lessens and other things expand:
- Reaching out to people I don’t know fosters courage and willingness to speak with those outside of my social circle, and creates the possibility for additional opportunities to arise.
- Submitting writing to agents and editors builds confidence. I no longer take rejection or the absence of a response personally. I know at some point my material will land in front of the perfect set of eyes. It’s only a matter of time.
- Hitting ‘Post’ and ‘Submit’ encourages me to become less attached to the opinion of those who the article does not speak to. My writing isn’t for everybody, and that’s okay. Little by little it reaches those who it was meant to reach, and that’s okay.
- Spending dedicated time writing, editing, and creating a book builds the resilience, perseverance, patience and dedication necessary to declare oneself a writer.
- Acting from a place of knowing “…that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised and misunderstood” is where I now live. Period.
But don’t take only my word for it. Here are a few others who have already come to know the benefits of the “jump”:
“Go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.” -Jimmy Carter
“Do one thing every day that scares you.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
“When you stay dormant, your life is at risk; when you dare to take a step, you take a step to take a risk. We have a choice. Yes, a choice to choose to dare to get to our real reasons for being on earth or to choose to live in mediocrity and conformity, but, we ought to note that, it is riskier to risk nothing when the life we live is always at risk.” -Ernest Agyemang Yeboah
“There is strange comfort in knowing that no matter what happens today, the sun will rise again tomorrow.”-Aaron Lauritsen
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” — Anais Nin
Taking both small and large risks have allowed me to explore the world in a way that encourages incremental progress. It took sometime for me to accept that there is no magic wand that can be waved over your head to open you up to the things that you know you must do.
You have to put in the work.
You have to be willing to make mistakes, to hold unconventional positions, and to not be afraid to do something that stretches you. And most importantly, you have to be clear on “what you stand to lose and ensure that it is outweighed by what you stand to gain.”
Every action brings a possibility of failure, just as every action brings a possibility of success. Have the courage to do what you think is right and necessary, while knowing that “courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, “I’ll try again tomorrow.””