Is this worth the risk? Posted in: Happiness Which of these fits you best: (I stole it from a financial investment assessment) You have just reached the $10,000 plateau on a TV game show. Now you must choose between quitting with the $10,000 in hand or betting the entire $10,000 on one of three alternative scenarios. Which do you choose? A) The $10,000 — you take the money and run B) A 50 percent chance of winning $50,000 C) A 20 percent chance of winning $75,000 D) A 5 percent chance of winning $100,000 Financial advisers want to know how you feel about risk before they invest your money. It’s important because if you chose A then you need investments that are a safe bet. There are lower returns, but you don’t have to worry that your cash might disappear. If you chose D, your adviser will likely recommend new companies that might make it big, but they might not. You could invest in the next Google or it might be a dud that fizzles away, along with your cash. There’s no right or wrong response to this concept. Investing at all is a risk, but when you understand your own relationship to risk you can choose plans that will work well for you. I tell you all this because it offers a fabulous metaphor for life. All of life is a risk. Just like all of the options in the multiple choice above, there is risk involved. Even if you chose “A”, there was risk in just showing up for the show and trying to win. You could have missed a day of work and not won a dime. Going for your heart’s desires is a risk. We all have battle scars to prove it. NOT going for our heart’s desires is also risky. The risks of regret, of longing for something else, of simply not feeling satisfied are massive. Everything we long for in life sits on the other side of risk. That space of risk is called vulnerability. It is a vulnerable place to be in life when we know we want connection with another and that very connection requires us to allow ourselves to be seen. Or, when we want the promotion and we have to risk letting everyone know we really want the job. Or, when we speak to injustice, bigotry, and hatred. Or, when we decide to try one. more. time. It is a risk every time we lean in, and as you already know, it doesn’t always work out. I’ll tell you about Sally*. Sally was a successful businesswoman. She worked as an accountant at a large firm and was steadily climbing the corporate ladder. She had done it all “right” in her career. She went to a prestigious college, went to work at an affluent firm, and took the appropriate internal positions to leverage herself for upward mobility. She was even considering graduate school for management to further enhance her career. Everything was just so. Here was the rub… Sally had always dreamed of being a writer. She had written multiple short stories and thought they were pretty good. She wanted to submit them for publication, to see if others agreed they were good, but she was afraid they might not get published. She thought that would mean others wouldn’t like her stories. Despite longing to see her name in print, the fear of failure was too much. You see, Sally had never failed at anything. She had always done what she was “supposed” to do and she had no idea if she could handle it. She was certain others would judge her. Sally and I dug into this dilemma and she decided to submit those stories. She submitted them to multiple places and no one wanted to print any of them. She was understandably heartbroken. Sally and I continued on and while she wasn’t sure she would do it again, she realized multiple benefits from the submission process. She found gratitude in the knowing. There wasn’t any further wondering and she felt resolution. Leaning in is still worth it. Even in the moments when the outcomes are difficult. Even in those. Sally’s story has another picee to it. I’ll share with you what happened later, what she had no way of knowing at the time of her great “failure”. After the sting of rejection settled a bit, Sally decided to take a creative writing class at the local college. She wanted to continue writing and realized she had so much she could learn to not only improve her work, but to be able to express herself more clearly. In her class she met what would later become her “tribe”. Those folks rallied around her. They cheered for her, encouraged her, practiced with her, and loved her. In that process Sally honed her craft. I’ll let you decide what happened next. Did she publish a book, an article, start a large publication, or maybe she just writes for those she loves? The outcome doesn’t matter quite so much anymore, does it? The value of Sally’s writing was never about who published it, but rather, the value it brought to her life. She learned to proudly claim the title “writer”, no matter where her words were kept. I don’t recommend leaning in because it is easy or always pretty. I recommend leaning in because it is where you understand your value. As Theodore Roosevelt said, And, as everything we do in wellness, we take small doable steps toward our personal arena. We assess our tolerance for risk, consider where we can lean in a little bit today, tune in to heart’s desires, and move forward a little bit at a time. There’s no need to be bloody and bruised every day! There are so many ways we can all risk a little bit today. Risk changing your mind. Challenge what you have always believed. Risk learning a new idea that challenges your own thinking. Risk giving and receiving love. Risk speaking up for your cause, passion, preference, boundary, idea. Risk reaching out for help. Risk taking time for yourself in order to create a life you desire. Risk disappointing someone in order to be true to yourself. Risk trying. Again…. Risk hoping, desiring, believing. Risk trying one small new thing. Just one. One tiny thing. Risk saying yes to your life. I’m including a free handout of affirmations to help you practice. *Sally is not a real person, but rather, a compilation of stories I have heard in session.