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The most important word related to risk in my mind is "discernment."  Not all risks are worth taking, but very many of them are.  We hear stories over and over again about the people who reach the end of their lives and regret the fact that they never took any risks, that they never challenged life and stepped out and tried something that was beyond their current existence.  It's sad when this happens, but it's very common--risk isn't easy for many people, and they pay a heavy price for letting their fear control their decisions about whether or not to take risks.

But again, not all risks are worth taking.  Sometimes we find someone trying to talk us into taking a risk with them in a venture that will benefit them more than it will benefit us.  Other times, we face risks to our safety or health that far outweigh the potential benefits of taking a risk.  Climbing a cliff with no training and no experience is far too dangerous to be worth the possible adrenaline rush that will accompany the feat.  The chance of falling is great, and the chance of getting hurt in such a fall is greater still.  That doesn't mean that we shouldn't be willing to take the risk of cliff climbing--but if we want to do so, let's prepare ourselves for the risk, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

By the same token, a heavy financial risk in an unknown venture when you're hurting for money probably isn't a good idea, whereas a financial risk in a known venture with a trusted friend or associate may be.

Of course, we can't prepare for every possible risk in our lives.  Things come up quickly and unexpectedly that force us to make decisions--risk it, or not?  Should I take the new job in a new city and move my entire family?  What happens if things don't work out?  Well, that's risk.

Some people want to take care of every possible outcome of risk before they're willing even to take the risk.  If I do this, then I'll arrange for the potential failure and have everything taken care of, they think.  The bad news is that nobody's able to control life--that's God's job.  We can try to minimize the risk for the sake of our families, but if we try to provide for every possible outcome, we're turning the risk into a calculated venture, and we're trying to control it.  We're trying to "minimize the risk."  When we do this, we lose a great deal of the potential benefit of taking the risk, for we're only willing to take a partial risk.

On the other hand, isn't a partial risk better than no risk at all?

There's nothing saying that we have to take risks, but the lives and writings of many people who have reached the end of their lives with a great deal of regret over risks untaken show us that risk is something that can transform our lives.  Risk makes us grow in many ways; it helps us to mature and to learn and to become stronger, wiser people than we were before we took the risk.

We have to enter risk with our eyes wide open, fully aware of the potential problems that could arise as results of our risk-taking.  But we also need to weigh risks carefully before we ever take them to find out if they're worth taking or not.  When you're faced with an opportunity to take a risk, remember that risks not taken can be disastrous, but so can risks poorly considered.  Check it out, look it over, and think it through.  If you're not prepared for it, prepare yourself--learn, train, study.

We can't control the risks or the outcomes of the risk--the only factor that's under our control when we enter a risk is our own state.  Be aware and be alive--and remember that risks have the potential to be our greatest teachers, our strongest benefactors, and our best friends.  It all depends on how we approach them.

  

Only those who dare, truly live.

Ruth P. Freedman

   

What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?

Vincent van Gogh

   

If you risk nothing, then you risk everything.

Geena Davis

   

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To be alive at all involves some risk.

Harold MacMillan

  

Any life truly lived is a risky
business, and if one puts up
too many fences against the
risks one ends by shutting
out life itself.

Kenneth S. Davis
  
  
And the day came when the risk
to remain tight in a bud was more
painful than the risk it took to blossom.

Anaïs Nin

  

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach for another is to risk involvement.
To expose your ideas, your dreams,
before a crowd is to risk their loss.

To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To believe is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken,
because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

The people who risk nothing, do nothing,
have nothing, are nothing.
They may avoid suffering and sorrow,
but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live.

Chained by their attitudes, they are slaves;
they have forfeited their freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.

Leo Buscaglia
(originally in prose form)

  

All life is a chance.  So take it!  The person who goes the furthest
is the one who is willing to do and dare.

Dale Carnegie

  

If your life is ever going to get better, you'll have to take risks.
There is simply no way you can grow without taking chances.

David Viscot

  
  
Yes, risk-taking is inherently failure-prone.  Otherwise,
it would be called sure-thing-taking.

Tim McMahon
   

If you're never scared or embarrassed or hurt,
it means you never take any chances.

Julia Sorel

  

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare;
it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.

Seneca

  
What is more mortifying than to feel that you have
missed the plum for want of courage to shake the tree?

Logan Pearsall Smith

  

People wish to learn to swim and at the same time
to keep one foot on the ground.

Marcel Proust

   

  

The people who have done big things are those
who were not afraid to attempt big things,
who were not afraid to risk failure in order to gain success.

B.C. Forbes

 

I must tell you I take terrible risks.  Because my playing is very clear,
when I make a mistake you hear it.  If you want me to play only the notes
without any specific dynamics, I will never make one mistake.
Never be afraid to dare.

Vladimir Horowitz

  

One has to abandon altogether the search for security, and reach out
to the risk of living with both arms.  One has to embrace the world like a lover.
One has to accept pain as a condition of existence.  One has to court doubt
and darkness as the cost of knowing.  One needs a will stubborn in conflict,
but apt always to total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying.

Morris L. West

  

What stops people from trying new things and taking new risks?  They keep doing
the same thing over and over, expecting that they will get different results.  Their ideas
and habits keep them in the same restricted path, like the polar bear at the zoo who was
tethered when first placed in his enclosure, since it wasn’t finished and there was
the danger that he might escape.  After the enclosure was completed, he was freed
of the tether, but he continued to pace in the same restricted area.  Similarly,
we sometimes do ineffective things over and over again, and view things
the same way over and over again, and therefore stay stuck where we don’t
want to be (and don’t have to be, I might add).

Bill O’Hanlon

  
  

Don’t be afraid to take risks.  These need not be skydiving or mountain climbing,
but simply active efforts in simple daily activities that are so often avoided
because of the demands of courtesy, social obligation, or the need to act according
to the expectations that others have of you.  Make a list of ten steps you would take
if you were the person you would like to become.  Take that course that you have been
thinking about; invest in what you have been thinking about; try a new venture;
try a new route to work; try taking a subway if you have been taking a bus;
try taking a bus if you have been taking your car.

Ari Kiev

  

If I am transparent enough to myself, then I can become less afraid
of those hidden selves that my transparency may reveal to others.
If I reveal myself without worrying about how others will respond,
then some will care, though others may not.  But who can love me,
if no one knows me?  I must risk it, or live alone.  It is enough that I must
die alone.  I am determined to let down my walls, whatever the risks,
if it means that I may have whatever is there for me.

Sheldon Kopp

 
I am willing to put myself through anything; temporary pain or discomfort means
nothing to me as long as I can see that the experience will take me to a new level.
I am interested in the unknown, and the only path to the unknown is through
breaking barriers, an often painful process.

Diana Nyad
  

 

Life is either always a tightrope or a feather bed.  Give me the tightrope.

Edith Wharton

 
Accept that all of us can be hurt, that all of us can—and surely will at times—fail.
Other vulnerabilities, like being embarrassed or risking love, can be terrifying, too.
I think we should follow a simple rule:  if we can take the worst, take the risk.

Joyce Brothers
  
   

One of the most beautiful things I've ever seen happened in a park.  There was
a mama and a papa who had taken--actually taken the time from this mad,
busy schedule of all these essential things to be done, to take their little child
to the park.  Their little kid was walking down to the lakeside.  Papa saw this,
and started to stop him.  Mama, who must have been a very unique, lovely
person, reached out and grabbed him.  She said, "Let him go!"  And down
toddled this kid, just barely able to walk.  This tale has a happy ending;
the baby didn't drown.  I'm sure Mama's heart was pounding hard.
But all growth involves risk.

Leo Buscaglia

   
Sometimes life frightens me and I’m tempted to retreat instead of risking
failure.  But when I challenge this fear and choose to take a risk, this
stretches my soul.  By forging ahead and trying something new—even
when I am scared—I perform an act of courage.  And this act of courage
strengthens my soul and strengthens my character.

John Gray
   

If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair.  We'd never
have a friendship.  We'd never go into business, because we'd be cynical.
Well, that's nonsense.  You've got to jump off cliffs all the time
and build your wings on the way down.

Ray Bradbury

   
   

If you want to achieve great things in life, you have to take risks.
The first risk is daring to feel deeply, to be passionate about what
you want and care about.  Enthusiasm is the key to breaking through
barriers, whether your dream is to touch one person or millions.

Ken Kragen

    

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It takes courage to care for others, because people who care run the risk
of being hurt.  It's not easy to let your guard down, open your heart, react
with sympathy or compassion or indignation or enthusiasm when usually it's
much easier--and sometimes much safer--not to get involved.  People who
take the risk make a tremendous discovery:  The more things you care
about, and the more intensely you care, the more alive you are.

Arthur Gordon
    

And the trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more.

Erica Jong

    

All of life is the exercise of risk.

William Sloan Coffin

    

   
During the first period of our lives the greatest danger is not to take the risk.
When once the risk has been taken, then the greatest danger is to risk too
much.  By not risking at first one turns aside and serves trivialities; in the
second case, by risking too much, one turns aside to the fantastic and perhaps to presumption.

Sören Kierkegaard
   

One can give nothing whatever without giving oneself--
that is to say, risking oneself.  If one cannot risk
oneself, then one is simply incapable of giving.

James Baldwin

   




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Studies of people who report high well-being in their fifties and sixties
indicate that they have lived lives that involved personal risks.  They are
not people whose lives have been calm and predictable.  A life under
tight control sometimes produces quiet desperation.  High well-being is
a life that has depth and quality.  Risks, losses, problems, and tragedy
add pain to a life.  That pain becomes a teacher.  We learn;
the pain gives us no choice.

Jennifer James

   
Certainly, careful examination is essential in many situations.  But it's
not always possible to know what's around the next corner.  Even the
imperfect unknown can be edited once it begins to take form.  Therein
lies the serendipitous nature of risk.  Betting on the stock market poses
all sorts of possible losses.  Yet investors often risk losing out on big
wins if they stay behind. . . . It's easy to walk away from the unknown.
But as comfortable as it may feel to be risk-free, the loss of what could
be something wonderful and exciting can leave you empty and unfulfilled.
Anyone can make a list of all the good reasons for not doing something.
Indeed, how can the comfort of the familiar possibly compete with the
uneasiness associated with unexplored terrain?

Leslie Levine
Ice Cream for Breakfast
   

Most people live and die with their music still unplayed.  They never dare to try.

Mary Kay Ash

   

   

Take chances, make mistakes.  That's how you grow.
Pain nourishes your courage.  You have to fail
in order to practice being brave.

Mary Tyler Moore

   
Risk always brings its own rewards:  the exhilaration of breaking
through, of getting to the other side; the relief of a conflict healed;
the clarity when a paradox dissolves.

Marilyn Ferguson
   

Our whole way of life today is dedicated to the removal of risk.
Cradle to grave we are supported, insulated, and isolated from
the risks of life--and if we fall, our government stands
ready with Band-Aids of every size.

Shirley Temple Black

   
   
Let's talk about risk, because risk is so nice.  Once you begin to become
hooked on risk, your whole life changes.  But change and growth take place
only when you're willing to risk and experiment with your own life.  You're
never sure of anything.  Everything's a risk.  I remember many years ago I
sold everything that I had--much against everybody's advice.  I wanted to
go around the world.  I wanted to hear a crystal-clear temple bell in Nepal.
I wanted to sit in a rice paddy in Thailand and talk to people, or at least hug
them.  And I did.  I sold my insurance policy, my house, my car, everything
I owned.  And I went.  People said, "Oh, my goodness.  You gave up your
secure job.  You're never going to find another job.  You're going to starve
when you come home."  I came home with about ten cents.  I didn't starve,
I learned.  So much more important were the things that I learned.

Leo Buscaglia
Living, Loving, and Learning
  

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done, there are thousands
to prophesy failure.  There are thousands to point out to you, one by
one, the dangers that await to assail you.  But just buckle in with a bit
of a grin, just take off your coat and go to it; just start to sing as
you tackle the thing that "cannot be done," and you'll do it.

Edgar Guest

  

All serious daring starts from within.

Eudora Welty

  
Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off
alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity
and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the
Unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into.

Wendell Berry