Monday, April 23, 2012

How to Master Intentional Risk-Taking

Dangerous Risk Adrenaline Suicide by Fear of F...
Dangerous Risk Adrenaline: Suicide by Fear of Falling (Photo credit:
By Marquita A Herald

Life would be so much simpler if every choice and opportunity came with a "guarantee" attached to it. That way we'd feel safe and satisfied with all of our decisions.

The problem is that worthwhile growth inherently involves at least some risk, which means there is a certain percentage of failure involved.

Despite the decidedly negative connotation of the expression, it's important to keep in mind all "risk-taking" is not created equal, and there are worthwhile forms that do not involve reckless behavior or inevitable failure. That said, even the most beneficial acts of risk-taking involve a hefty degree of personal commitment; a willingness to venture into the unknown, and a personal desire to grow.

You may have seen terms like 'smart' or 'intelligent' risk-taking. I prefer using the term 'intentional' risk-taking because I think it does a better job of defining the ideal behavior.

Intentional risk-taking = taking risks that are deliberate and planned

For many people just thinking about taking any form of risk is naturally scary, but learning to take well thought out intentional risks is also one of the most important things you can do to build self-esteem and greater confidence in your own abilities to make decisions and overcome adversity.

As with any skill, intentional risk-taking is best developed with practice over time

Keep in mind that risk-taking is to a great degree subjective, for instance finding the courage to ask for that long overdue raise may feel like a huge risk to you, the same way venturing into a new restaurant might be for someone else ... so where ever you start, the goal is for the risk to be meaningful to you and to gradually begin stretching your comfort level with each new risk you undertake.

Here are a few very specific steps to help you become skilled at intentional risk-taking:

• Know your ultimate goal. Why are you considering the risk and what it is you want to achieve in terms of an outcome?

• Evaluate the risk level. Intentional risks are about weighing your chances of success, understanding what's at stake and the potential loss if you fail. If the potential loss is greater than you are willing to accept, then you should re-evaluate your options.

• Determine the potential for achievement. Sometimes even if you take a risk and fail, you end up winning anyway, because there are valuable lessons or skills to be learned in the process.

• Consider the consequences of NOT taking the risk. Almost all personal growth and achievement comes with risk no matter whether you fail or succeed. Just remember, the regret of never having tried is usually much harder to live with than failure.

• Take decisive action. While planning is important, mentally re-running the risk without taking action is self-defeating. If you find yourself unable to take action, go back to the beginning of this process and decide if this really is a risk you're prepared to take, and if so spend some time thinking about why you're stuck. Whatever the reason, keep in mind, not acting is in itself a choice with consequences.

• Own your decisions. Great personal growth does not come from perfection or always winning it comes from trying despite the odds. This is the sign of a survivor and someone who has tremendous long-term resilience.

• Learn from failures. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, our risks don't work out. Realize that failure is part of the risk taking process. The key is to dissect your results so you can see what happened, learn from your mistakes and move on. Whatever the outcome, take time to celebrate because you've gain confidence and courage just by making the attempt!

All of life is a risk of some kind. The issue is not whether to take risks, but rather how to take the right risks for the right reasons in pursuit of a meaningful objective. The beauty of choosing to take control of your life in this way is that what may appear to be an overwhelming obstacle today ... will in time reveal itself to be merely another stepping stone on your journey toward developing greater resiliency.

Marquita is a writer, entrepreneur, coach, world traveler, avid reader, lover of dogs and the blogger behind IGG - Tips, Tools & Tantalizing Ideas. To learn more about cultivating resilience in your life, please visit her at and look for the Free special report - 12-Step Guide to Building Resilience.

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