Thursday, February 21, 2013

Risk Taking

I posted this in 2008 and again in 2012.  And now again in 2013.  This was a little sign that I used to have hanging in my office when I was a social worker.


To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.

To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.

To reach out for another is to risk involvement.

To expose your feelings is to risk exposing your true self.

To place your ideas, your dreams before a crowd is a risk.

To love is to risk not being loved in return.

To live is to risk dying.

To hope is to risk despair.

To try is to risk failure.

But, risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing at all.

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing.

They may avoid suffering and sorrow but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live.

Chained by their certitudes, they are a slave. They have forfeited their freedom.

Only a person who risks is free.

I've been thinking a lot about risk lately.

There have been circumstances in my personal and professional life where I have stuck my neck out... almost expecting to get hurt... So far, it has turned out fine each time.  But there is that period of time from when you make the choice to when it's over and done and you are waiting to see what comes of it.

Using new rules.  In my 13 years with my company, we have never had a "work at home" policy.  It simply wasn't how things were done.  When I was first hired, that was company wide.  Once we were purchased by a much larger company that did have flex time and work from home opportunities, it became a policy of our department to have set hours, work in the office.  Period.  No exceptions.  Now I have a new boss.  And I'm part of a new department.  And there is a new rule.  I can work from home up to 2 times per month with no questions asked.  And I took advantage of that on a day that Teagan didn't have school but Zach did and Teagan had a cheer performance 40 minutes away and we had to be there by 5:30.  If I'd been at work and left around 4:45... I would have been lucky to get home by 5:30.  I would have had to make arrangements or pay for child care for Teagan.  Instead, I set up my desk at home.  I explained to Teagan that it wasn't a "fun with Mom" day but that it was a day that I had to keep doing work.  And it worked out really well.  And because I was at home and because I have flexibility with my hours, I was able to be done with my day in time to pick Zach up from school, pick up Teagan's friend, and get to the performance in more than enough time.  And even thought I personally benefitted from this new rule... there was a bit of nervousness about what the consequences would be, what the fallout would be, or finding out there wasn't really an allowance to work from home.  But I took the risk and it turned out just fine.

Expressing feelings.  I had a situation where I felt I hadn't been treated fairly.  I was supposed to be part of a team and I wasn't treated like a team member at all.  In the end, I attended one meeting and was never contacted again until right before the event we had been on team for.  I then contacted the leader and explained that I hadn't been contacted, trained, communicated with at all in the previous 3 months and, therefore, would not be serving on this team.  In sharing my experience with others, I was encouraged to share my story "higher up" so that those who plan these events would be aware of the missed opportunity.  I put together a carefully worded email and sent it to some of the board members.  And now I'm in that waiting period - what if I offend?  What if this puts me on the naughty list and I'm never asked to be on this team again?

Sticking to my pruning.  Back in December, I had to make some changes.  I had to cut some things I was involved in so that I could focus on the things that are most important.  I have recently had some circumstances where I had to say no to people... and that was really hard.  I had to take a risk - risking disappointing a friend, letting down a ministry, hurting someone's feelings.  I've been fortunate that the people I have to say no to do understand and there hasn't been any damage... but there is that period of time, waiting for the response... that I feel like I may have risked too much.

There are situations each day where we take risks.  Sometimes the risk is big, sometimes the risk is small.

"Chained by their certitudes."  That line sticks with me.  When I choose not to risk, I am deciding how the other person is going to react.  I am determining that I "know" how they will respond.  I am allowing myself to be chained by my assumptions, my certitudes.

To risk means I might get hurt... but it also means that I can live completely as my true self.  If I'm willing to take the risk.



Karen M. Peterson said...

This is a great follow up, Liz.

I'm terrible when it comes to risk-taking. I'm either completely scared to do anything risky, or I go the opposite direction and do something really impulsive and stupid. Need to find the middle.

AndreaV said...

Very timely, Liz. I MAY have a new career opportunity that I am mulling over. It is very disconcerting to think about leaving what is comfortable and stable, for something more uncertain.