National Take a Chance Day takes place on April 23. Let’s use this opportunity to talk about taking chances – why we don’t, how to adjust our perspectives, and practical ways to overcome our fears.
Why we get in our own way
Wouldn’t it be awesome to pursue our dreams with abandon, knowing it leads us to a life fully loved?
Intellectually we believe we can and should pursue our dreams to reach our full potential. And yet, a yawning gap appears between our minds and the rest of ourselves (body, heart, and spirit). Guess who wears the hat most of the time?
Our saboteurs (inner critics) live in our heads. They want to maintain the status quo. When you implement change in any form, the saboteurs get louder and often nasty. As I said in an earlier blog, the saboteur isn’t interested in resolution; it’s only interested in being right. We have a counter to the saboteurs, our Leader Within (inner voice of wisdom). It’s the voice that calls us forth into something greater, except it doesn’t yell – it often whispers.
In a nutshell, we get in our way because we allow the voices of our saboteurs to speak louder than our voice of inner wisdom.
Putting failure in the right perspective
Our saboteurs trick us into thinking change means failure. That’s how they “get” us. This is fallacy. Miles Davis once said, “Do not fear mistakes – there are none.” What dream would you chase if you wrote out this mantra and stuck it on your fridge for a week?
We’re talking about taking a responsible risk. I first learned this term at our children’s grade school and it stayed with me ever since.
Visualize fulfilling your dream. Imagine how great you feel. Bask in the glow of achievement. Feel that sense of purpose that comes from knowing you’ve done something important.
With the endpoint in mind, consider what responsible risk looks like. In fact, when you adopt the perspective of responsible risk, “failure” doesn’t seem so nasty, does it? Responsible risk asks us to move forward with the unknown within boundaries that feel safe.
Best way to overcome the fear of taking a chance
Taking a chance involves addressing our fears of failure. Tara Mohr suggests a great way to take a chance, which she calls a leap, in Playing Big (p.165-179). Find a task that you can complete in one to two weeks. It’s an action that gets your adrenaline pumping by putting you in contact with the audience you want to reach (stakeholders, customers etc). Your leap must answer a key question about something you want to learn. You earn psychological and tactical benefits from a leap such as what works with your audience and the joy of taking a chance now.
When all else “fails” consider the words of Mae West: “Whenever I have to choose between two evils, I always like to try the one I haven’t tried before.” Take a chance.