Risky Business


This week I gave a workshop to a group of savvy educators at my children’s school.  We talked about what it takes to create a community that encourages risk-taking and why we would want to do so.  We talked about the value of having a professional community that was both flexible and inspiring, and took time to identify what types of behavior inspires us to trust.  We also talked about why taking risks is important.

I am a sensitive person, and sometimes it can be a fine line between feeling judged and feeling inspired.  When I feel like my behavior is under a microscope, I feel the need to defend myself, over justify my actions, and behave rigidly, as if following a script.  I call it my safe, rigid place. In this place I miss opportunities to grow.  At the same time, when I feel I am in a non-judgmental environment, I am inspired to learn, to try new things, and take bigger risks.  In this environment I am able to see a bigger picture and am more open to seeing the many gifts the people around me have to offer.

Risk-taking can mean very different things to different people.  For some it might mean going to an event with a bunch of people they have never met, public speaking, or even skydiving.  For me, it might be letting my kid eat a cookie for breakfast or skipping brushing my teeth (lame I know) and waiting nervously for the consequences (even if there are none).  It’s less important what the risk is and more important that we give ourselves room to take them.  It is often the risks we take in life that propel us towards important discoveries about ourselves.  The risks we take often give us permission to start or stop doing something that will change our lives for the better.

Creating an environment that encourages risks-taking:

  1. Associate often with people you feel un-judged by
  2. Don’t assume others are judging you
  3. Associate with new people
  4. Try new activities
  5. Trust yourself
  6. Find time to be playful
  7. Use gentle words in your self-talk/inner-monologue
  8. Be cautious of the word “should”
  9. Identify the risks you have already taken and their pay-off
  10. Make a list of risks you will consider

What risk will you take this week?