Make 2019 a Risk-Filled Year!
I know this blog title is a little unconventional. Most people are warned not to take risks instead of being encouraged to take them. But sometimes the biggest payoffs are in the biggest risks. Without having the courage to take the risk, you miss out on something big. Sometimes really big.
Take Alex Honnold, for example. Alex Honnold, a professional rock climber from Sacramento, California, had a lifelong dream of being the first person to climb El Capitan free solo, which in the climbing world equates to climbing alone with no ropes or any other safety equipment. Just you on the face of the rock. No security blanket. And certainly no room for error.
El Capitan, located in Yosemite National Park, is one of the most revered rock formations of all time. It’s also one of the most feared. The iconic nearly-sheer face towers 3,000 vertical feet above the valley floor. Professional rock climbers from all over the world come to dominate this mighty rock by ascending it and viewing the world from on high. But in some cases, it’s this mighty rock that dominates. Several climbers have fallen to their deaths trying to climb El Capitan – and they were using safety equipment.
As depicted in the real-life award-winning documentary Free Solo, Alex Honnold trained hard for his free solo attempt. He kept a notebook with him at all times and recorded the details of every climb he made on El Capitan. Every toehold, every finger position, every pitch climbed went into his notebook, along with his thoughts about what worked, what didn’t work, and his theories behind each. He mulled over his notes every evening, figuring out ways to do it better the next day. Alex was obsessive about his daily training regimen, and nothing caused him to deviate from that – not even the presence of the film crew. Alex was 100% focused on his goal, as well he should be. His life depended on it.
Taking risks in life does not come easily for most of us. After all, we were taught from an early age to look both ways before crossing the street and to avoid talking to strangers. Very risky behaviors, indeed, and sage advice from Mom. But what if that stranger you avoid talking to is the very person you need to meet to further your business career?
Some people are better at taking risks than others. They may have adopted a more daredevil approach to life, or they may be blessed with higher self-confidence than others have. For many people, a willingness to take risks is dependent on the size and type of risk involved. Risks are scary things, and the bigger the (perceived negative) consequences, the bigger the danger is. This thinking is what keeps people mired in mediocrity.
But what if, instead of focusing on the danger, we focused on the benefits that could be gained and the things we could accomplish by taking risks?
I, personally, take risks every day when I leave the house. My heart runs on batteries right now. If I’m out for too long, I’ll need to recharge. And if I forget to bring a spare battery or I’m not close to my charger…well, you get the picture. Of course, I could play it safe and stay at home watching TV all day, well within reach of a battery charger. But what would be the fun of that?
Instead, I choose to get out in the world. I’m living life, loving life, and taking care of my kids. I’m running a business, creating new opportunities for myself and others, and having a great time doing it. I embrace every moment I have in this world because only by embracing it can I fully experience it.
Yes, I do try to be prepared before I go out. It makes good to take measures to stay safe in the world. I’m not reckless. But I’m not afraid, either, because I know the payoffs are worth the risks. And I have confidence that I’ll succeed.
On June 3, 2017, Alex Honnold struck out early for El Capitan, not telling a soul that he was going. He confidently latched onto the rock and started climbing. Three hours and fifty-six minutes later, he was on top, the first person to ever climb El Capitan free solo. Did he expect a medal or ribbons because of his feat? No. He climbed El Capitan because he could. Because it satisfied a need within him. And because he was willing to take the risks associated with achieving a dream, knowing full well the price that failure would cost him. Alex Honnold took a chance on himself, and he won.
So…as 2019 gets started, give some consideration to what you want to do this year. What do you want to achieve? What do you want to experience? Take time to give it some serious thought. Then get out there and have a risk-filled year. Say “yes” to taking chances. You may be surprised at what you can do!
To watch a 360 video of Alex’s climb, click here. Make sure you’re sitting down.