Right Risk

Right Risk

10 Powerful Principles for taking giant leaps with your life (2003)
By Bill Treasurer

Sometimes, it is interesting to read books at random, especially those books that you know that you will not normally read. It adds an additional dimension, knowledge and perception to how I view things in life.  Judging from the book’s cover, I didn’t know that one can really learn quite a number of things from it and be inspired.

Principle 1 : Find your golden silence

Right risk-taking is about purposeful action : matching the best of your intentions with the best of your behaviors. For your risk to be full of purpose, it has to be anchored to an higher ideal or cause that you believe to be worthwhile. Silence helps us to relax so that insights and intuitions can break through.

How do you find your golden silence? By not thinking – literally NOT THINKING. In commenting on how to connect to our inner silence, Franz Kafka once said, “You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

Principle 2 : Defy Inertia

There are some things you can do to defy inertia :
1. Anchor your risk to your passion – ask youself : What am I most passionate about?

2. Play a new station… ask yourself “What if I don’t risk?

3. Feed your dreams – instead of listing all the reasons why the risk is not feasible, conduct some due diligence. Study the industry, get more information. The more you nourish your dreams, the more feasible and real they get. After a while, you’ll become so mentally involved in your new world that your physical world will catch up with you.

4.  Visualize.
5.  Get a coach.
6.  Do your lead-up example mini rehearsals that physically stimulate the risk you want to take.
7.  Create desperation.
8.. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Principle 3 : Write your risk scripts

Have a personal mantra to boost your courage. For a personal mantra to be effective, it has to be exquisitvely simple, certainly no more than a sentence long example “One day at a time”, “No risk, no reward”, “Trust God”  As you move closer to your risk, however, you may wish to elaborate on your mantra by doing such things such as writing a personal mission statement, or drafting your own “declaration of independence” to explain your philosophies in your life.


Principle 4 : Turn on the risk pressure

When it comes to risk, few pressures are as powerful and persuasive as peer pressure. At the root of peer pressure is acceptance. We do something risky because we don’t want to be seen as uncool – we want people to like us. The effectiveness of the positive form of peer pressure is one reason why you should enlist a few key peers to keep the pressure on you when readying for the risk.


Principle 5 : Put yourself on the line

Sometimes, a right risk often requires that you offer up your reputation as collateral against the potential rewards the risk might bring. When you do, the stakes become much higher and much more personal. With your reputation on the line, potential losses now include a piece of yourself.

One study of police officers and firefighters who had been decorated for bravery showed that heros actually scored lower on one of the most studied dimensions of risk-taking : sensation- seeking. It appears that heros are merely ordinary people who put themselves in extraordinary situations. Why? For reasons described as “pro social” (for the good of others) and altruistic. Perhaps, that is why heros often humbly explain, “I just did what I thought was right.”


Principle 6: Make your fear work for you

Rather than fight fear, make it work for you. You do this not by reducing the fear’s intensity, but by increasing the robustness of what British psychologist Dr.Michael Apter calls your “protective frame”. Example think of looking at a tiger in a cage. Both the tiger and cage are needed in order to experience excitement. The tiger without the cage would be frightening; the cage without the tiger would be boring. Both are necessary.

Many situations can potentially arouse feelings of excitement or anxiety depending on how safe you believe yourself to be. The safer we feel, the more we can cope with fearful feelings.  As long as the danger of our risk is matched in equal measure by something that increases our safety, our fear will be offset with excitement.  Hence, instead of reducing the size of the tiger (Fear), you should strengthen the metal of your cage (protective frame). The more robust the protective frame, the more ferocious the tiger you can deal with, and the more scary fun you can have !


Principle 7 : Have the courage to be courageous

Risk for risk’s sake is arrogance, not courage. Often the most courageous acts are acts of risk restraint. Fear often indicates something about yourself that you are avoiding. Left unaddressed, life will bombard you with a litany of opportunities to confront these “issues” until you finally resolve them. Each time you avoid the issue, you stuff it further into your psyche. Dealing with the issue represents your growth.. as if to say “If you don’t learn the lesson, you have to repeat the class.” The more you courageously face fear, the less intimadating it becomes.


Principle 8 : Be perfectly imperfect

Being perfectly imperfect means being rigorously honest. The author reads that many great quilt makers like to sew an imperfect stitch among their patchwork. They do this as an act of homage – the idea being that only God has the right to be perfect. Imperfection provides a needed constrast for beauty to emerge so that it can be most appreciated. Perhaps it is for this reason that, as the author’s grandmother used to say, “Everything God makes has a crack in it.”

So by valuing your shortcomings for giving you character, your quickiness, and your humanness, by giving yourself a break, you will recognize that mistakes are not personal failings. When you commit yourself to being perfectly imperfect, you come to appreciate risk-taking as a process of discovery, full of shortfalls and setbacks, but also full of serendipity and satisfaction.


Principle 9: Trespass continuously

In a controversial book, Obedience to Authority by Stanley Milgram, he conducted a series of experiments to explain how obedience acts as a forceful inhibitor or risk-taking. The findings consistently show that people will subjugate their most ardently held moral values in order to obey the commands of an authority figure… even commands that could only be explained as evil. As Milgram notes,” The person who, with inner conviction, loathes stealing, killing and assault may find himself performing these acts with relative ease when commanded by authority. Behavior that is unthinkable in an individual who is acting on his own may be executed without hesitation when carried out under orders. ”

Bertrand Russell reportedly commented that all great ideas start out as blasphemy. … maybe all great deeds as well. Copernicus, Galileo and Darin defied the superstitions of the church; Gandhi defied the British government by marching to the Arabian sea and washing in the salt waters; Nelson Mandela defied South Africa’s racist laws of aprtheid…


Principle 10 : Expose yourself

To expose yourself often means confronting others with your truth, not to admonish or inflict pain, but to foster growth. Resentments are the number one reason for poor relationships between people. Most commonly we get resentful when someone says something hurtful to us and instead of addressing it straight away, we swallow it. When we actually muster up the courage to confront the issue, resolution, one way or the other, occurs very quickly.



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