The word ‘risk’ may instantly give you heart palpitations. It may con jour up negative connotations. Why is that?
As a woman myself, we seem to be stereotypical less inclined to take risks. Men are typically seen as the ‘risk takers’ which is probably something to do with our prehistoric male ancestors having to go out into the wilderness to hunt for food etc etc. I am sure you have heard it all before. Well, let’s put something straight.
Risk is healthy. Risk is positive. Women are risk takers too.
Last week I wrote about The attack on body confidence and how that can rob you of enjoying simple things in life. The same can happen if we allow ourselves to be laden with fear of the unknown i.e. taking risks. We also can avoid risk as deep down we are worried what others will think.
My biggest risk to date was stepping into complete self employment. Although I had always taught fitness, I also used to work for a dance association for a number of years. The role was a good job, decently paid and totally dependable. My job was safe and so was my salary. I think I always knew deep down that I would end up being self employed, but it took me at least a year to hand in my resignation. I had a husband, a mortgage and all the typical bills which seem to rack up over 30 years. It was calculated but strongly driven by my gut instinct. If I focussed on the prospect of how much I had to lose, I would never have done it. It turned out to be the best decision I have made to date.
As I was writing this blog, the Stylist ( free womens magazine) had interviewed Kerry Washington, star of hit American series Scandal and passionate philanthropist. Interestingly when she was probed about a missed opportunity which she later regretted, she said
‘We are representing all women when we make a choice and I think risk-taking – calculated, intelligent risk-taking – is really important.’
As they say, the bigger the risk, the bigger the gain. The things many of us wish for often incorporate risks:
Taking that new job. Starting a family. Getting married. Buying a house. Travelling. Moving away from home. Undertaking new studies. Helping others. Standing up for what we believe in. Close friendship. Career change.
If we refrain from taking these risky steps, women would never own their own homes, have successful businesses, have children, influence society, discover new species of animals, lobby for injustices or build communities. (The list is endless). What an awful picture!
Flexing your ‘risky’ muscles
I have found that regularly taking small, physical risks can begin a subtle shift towards shaking off the negative and fearful thoughts which hold us back.
A simple, physical way of doing this is through taking classes in some kind of exercise like Yoga, Pilates, strength training, dance or taking up a sport which as an element of ‘danger’ or risk. The physical challenge which can be found through these activities can seep through to your psyche. If you do take part in an activity like this already, try mastering a challenging move which has an element of risk. For example, work towards being able to do a full wheel or forearm stand (from Yoga and gymnastics). Break the move down into small steps and work at it. Failure here i.e. to fall back down whilst no one can see you, will ignite a thought process and pathway that failure is not so bad after all. Failure is a great form of feedback as it teaches you lessons on how to do better next time.
Practise, practise and practise until you can do it. Whilst you are doing this you will have the added benefit of strengthening your body! as well as your mind. It may take you a week, a month or even a year, however the process of this persistence and the feeling you get when you master it is extremely empowering. Flexing these physical
and mental muscles will put you in good steed.
Do not be scared. Go forth and take risks (calculated and intelligent ones of course!).
Share your risky stories and thoughts in the comments below.