Category Archives: Risk

a hero’s journey

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” Joseph Campbell

Heros Journey


Epic in nature, it is your journey through change and life.  It’s your story and it is about your outer world, the one you see, and your inner world which remains hidden.

As we figure out what we want we have to make choices that involve what we can do and who we are.  The hero’s journey is about discovering who you are to do what you want.

The journey involves facing some of your deepest fears and when you are able to face those fears and battle with making a change then you are able to grow.   Tackling your fears is where having someone with you to identify what is holding you back is beneficial.


Where are you in your journey?   Are you struggling and not sure why?  Are you stuck or trapped and need a helping hand?   Are you growing or are you staying put?

“Nobody ever talks about the pyramids that weren’t built, the books that weren’t written, the songs that weren’t sung. Stop letting your fear condemn you to mediocrity. Get out of your own way. Your dreams are a poetic reflection of your soul’s wishes. Be courageous enough to follow them. There is no greater time than now to experience the full power of your potential. Make this the day you take the first step in the beautiful journey of bringing your dreams to life.”
― Steve Maraboli

the rules of the cave

“Grug: Tonight we’ll hear the story of Crispy Bear. A long time ago this little bear was alive because she listened to her father. So she was happy, but Crispy had one terrible problem.
Grug: She was filled with curiosity. Yes, and one day she saw something new and died!
Thunk: Just like that?
Grug: Yes!
Gran: Same ending as everyday
Thunk: I get it, dad. I will never do anything new or different.
Grug: Good man, Thunk”

From the movie, “The Croods”

“The Croods” turns out to be a movie about change and adventure.   The movie starts out with a caveman family that hides in a cave when anything dangerous happens and relies on the rules of the past to play in a changing world.

If we look at the movie as a reflection on life you can see where many people live with a set of rules designed for the past and they just don’t work for the world today.   It doesn’t mean abandon the past, it does mean exploring, and investigating the current reality.

“The Croods” is an animated story about leadership and how it works and what happens when it fails.  Do we act on ideas or do we hide from them?   Do we take chances and learn and grow or do we hide in our cave?  The movie is about growth and learning.  It is a metaphor for life as it is today, challenging, sometimes difficult and fraught with change.

Is your life filled with “I’ll follow the rules” or are you doing something new each day?  Growth and change are necessary.

what you resist …

“Pain is a relatively objective, physical phenomenon; suffering is our psychological resistance to what happens. Events may create physical pain, but they do not in themselves create suffering. Resistance creates suffering. Stress happens when your mind resists what is… The only problem in your life is your mind’s resistance to life as it unfolds. ”
― Dan Millman


“what you resist persists”, perhaps you have heard that phrase at least once in your life.

Push against a wall and it pushes back.  Push against the future and it pushes you back into the past.  Resist change and what you have today you’ll have tomorrow.  Be willing to rewrite your future.

What does it take to rewrite your future?   When we write our own future we are doing based on the accumulation of our past experiences to provide guidance in the actions we take.  We leverage our past actions in our present experience and when we do we really aren’t changing or challenging the actions of the past.  To rewrite our future means to bring in something from outside of our routine experiences.  It means looking outside of our realm of experience and seeking something vastly different.   It means breaking from the past to adopt something new.

For many people tomorrow is largely a repeat of the past.  Getting up at the same time, eating the same food, using the same route to work, the same …  (the pattern is the same).   Breaking the pattern requires energy and thought, a new intention, and bringing in something different.   Routines and habits play a big part in your life.   They provide consistency and regularity, and they also reduce the variety and uncertainty that can add value to your life.

Breaking a pattern may create a sense of anxiety, a sense of fear may be generated because it takes thought and attention to do things in a different way and there is a possibility that something could go different (as opposed to right or wrong).  What happens if you take a new route to work and you find the traffic is slower and it takes longer?   What happens if you found a new place that you could stop and enjoy a cup of coffee and get some work done?

The point is to make small deliberate changes each day.  Try something new.  It might be eating something different, just to generate a change.   Take time to relax, intentional relaxation, where you take a time out from all the busyness of life.  Take time to notice what you appreciate about each day.  Take time to acknowledge someone else in your life.   These small changes can make a difference.

“The human spirit lives on creativity and dies in conformity and routine.”
― Vilayat Inayat Khan

Six steps to failure

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”   Paulo Coelho

There are many ways to fail as there are many ways to succeed.    Knowing how to succeed has been a challenge for many people.  How do I achieve success?   One of the ways is to understand what leads to the undesired results.

Here are six ways to fail.   Add your own.

1. Sleep in.   Don’t take an interest in making a contribution.

2. Stop learning.  The world is changing quickly, failure to keep pace will lead to fewer opportunities.

3. Be self focused.   Focus on you and you alone.  Without strong networks of people you become invisible.

4. Take rather than give.   Giving of your time and talents without the intention of getting a “reward”  can result in good things happening for you.

5. Don’t take a risk.    Risk is necessary for growth.   Learn from taking a chance, learn from trying something new.

6. Focus on the past.    By looking back to the past and only thinking about what was is a good way to stay in the past.   Put effort into “Now” and plan for the future.   In fact think about where you want to be in 20 years.

 Here’s some thoughts from a recent TEDx talk.   How are you living?

unconscious living

“There are many wonderful things that will never be done if you do not do them.”   Charles D. Gill

“But, I can’t” … you’ve heard this before, maybe those are the words you uttered as well, “I can’t ….”, and if you ask why you might hear the words that are tied to a fear.    Often the words “I can’t” are spoken before there is any conscious thought.  It is as if “I can’t” rolls off the tongue with a high degree of practice, and it does.

What does “I can’t” speak to?   It speaks to fear, a fear of failure, a fear of success or a fear of loss.   “I can’t” really says I am not ready to make a change in my life because I am afraid of what the result could be and that result could be less favorable than I desire.   (It might cost money I don’t have, or It might cause me to lose something I can’t afford to lose right now, or It might make me feel bad, or It might make me look bad, or …. ).

In many cases there are words that we speak that we don’t create but rather words that are spoken in reaction to an event or a thought.   When our language becomes a reflex rather than a response we have trained our brain to do something without thinking about it.   It happens every day.  If you drive a car there is a lot of the driving process which has been pushed out of conscious thought to the point that driving can be unconscious.  (Think about the last time  you drove somewhere and don’t remember the journey).

Let’s say you have made a declaration to create success in your life.  To do that means that you are choosing the unknown.   To make a large shift in your life will push you in a direction in which you are not familiar and that generates fear.   To make steps forward means stepping into areas in which you have little or no experience and means making a choice to live consciously by making small effective choices to advance you in the direction you want to go.

To shift from unconscious living to conscious living is having an important goal, a goal that can become a driving force in your life.   What is your big goal that you are working towards?    Are you letting your programmed response to life stop you or are you taking the steps you need to take to grow and succeed?

fear or excitement …

“Don’t you long for something different to happen, something so exciting and new it carries you along with it like a great tide, something that lets your life blaze and burn so the whole world can see it?”   Juliet Marillier

For many people the idea of change is terrifying and change is what leads to growth and experiencing life fully.   What most people don’t realize is that the mind and the body can’t tell the difference between fear and excitement.   The same emotions and the same feelings are experienced by both fear and excitement.   How do you know which is which?

Remember the first day of school, that very first day that you realized that you were going to be doing something very different.   Maybe you were waiting for a bus to pick you up or perhaps you had to walk a few blocks to school.  This was the very first day you would be all alone (or at least you felt that way).  The reason not to go to school might have been “I don’t know anyone”, “I don’t have any friends” … or something else.   There is a first day of school story that most people know and can still remember.   Was it excitement or fear?

That moment when the doors opened on that big yellow bus  for your first time was a life defining moment.   That first big step up, and then the next and the next and then it was finding a seat.   All the faces were new and you might have been a little afraid or very excited but you didn’t know the difference.   You did know that your heart was beating faster and that the nerves weren’t very calm.

The first time you rode your bike may have been about the fear of falling and the exhilaration of making the first few turns of the pedal without anyone holding you up.   It wasn’t until you realized that you were riding without any help that you crashed but in that moment that moment of freedom you were excited and saying “Look at me, I am riding my bike!”.    It was exciting wasn’t it?

Think about other “firsts” in your life.  What was it fear or excitement.  Was it the excitement of doing something for the first time?    The second time that experience wasn’t so vivid and fresh and the third, fourth and fifth were less exciting than that very first time.

The very first plane ride was exciting.   The very first bus ride was exciting.  The very first day of school was exciting.   It was like stepping in to a whole new world and over time that excitement turned into a routine and you became an expert.  An expert at riding the bus, an expert at going to school, an expert at riding the bike and an expert at each thing that you had repeated experience in and it just became something normal didn’t it?

For many people the fear of speaking in front of a large audience is debilitating, but is it really fear or is it excitement.   Is it really about the excitement of doing something new and different or is there some real threat about speaking in front of an audience of people.   What is the worst that could happen as a speaker?   Is it a real fear?    Some people would say, “I might look bad”, or “I might sound stupid”, or “I might not look right”, whatever that is, it is really not about speaking it is about what others might think.   Is it fear or excitement?

What do you think?  When you try something new is it fear or excitement?   Think about it the next time you try something new.

“It was an image Melody would never forget. Or was it the emotions the image conjured – hope, excitement, and fear of the unknown, all three tightly braided together, creating a fourth emotion that was impossible to define. She was getting a second chance at happiness and it tickled like swallowing fifty fuzzy caterpillars.”   Lisi Harrison (Monster High)

face the enemy within

“Keep my word positive. Words become my behaviors. Keep my behaviors positive. Behaviors become my habits. Keep my habits positive. Habits become my values. Keep my values positive. Values become my destiny.”
Mahatma Gandhi

Good habits are hard to keep, bad habits are hard to lose.    Why is that?  Why is it so difficult to do what you don’t want to do and so hard to do what you do want to do?

Our habits stop us from being the person we could be.     It is easy to be tempted by “habit” to do something we know isn’t in our own best interest.   Take smokers for example.  Many of them would love to quit but they don’t feel they can.   There are people who would dearly love to quit drinking but don’t.

At some point it is as if our emotions are hijacking our lives.    Where do you feel like you’d love to make a change but your emotions say, “don’t do it”.   It is almost like saying if you help yourself you won’t be safe.   The amygdala (that small part of the brain that controls how we react) loves crying out, “Don’t change … don’t change”, because it is afraid of what might happen.   The “what if” is the fear is holding back the change that could be made when dealing with a destructive habit.   “What if I fail, then what do I do?” , well if you hear that often enough how inclined would you be to making the changes your want to make?  Most people aren’t very likely to make a change if they think it won’t stick or happen.

There are a lot of people working in a toxic environment and by toxic I mean environments that are disempowering, demeaning and have bullies managing the organization.   I am sure you have seen some bad environments in which to work.   While the pain of working there is high there is a thought that says, “Stay here because you don’t know what is out THERE”.   That is fear and habit that is holding you back from making a needed change.

Our lives are largely run by habit, a programmed set of rules that we live our lives by.     Think about the habits in your life.   Which ones have you tried to change and how successful were you at creating that change?

What is the enemy within?  It is the habit that still has a place in your life and one that isn’t making your life better.   What do you want to do about it?  What is it costing you to keep the bad habit?

“Power is the faculty or capacity to act, the strength and potency to accomplish something. It is the vital energy to make choices and decisions. It also includes the capacity to overcome deeply embedded habits and to cultivate higher, more effective ones.”   Stephen R. Covey

you can overcome it …

“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions.  All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make the better.  What if they are a little course, and you may get your coat soiled or torn?  What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice.  Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Are you a risk taker?

What was it like the first time you did something?   Were you excited or afraid?    What did you think would happen?

For some people it is the first time standing on the edge of a diving board.   It is that uneasy feeling of the board moving up and down and perhaps it is the fear of the unknown, not knowing what will happen that petrifies many people before they take that first leap.     Push the board down and it propels you upward and then it retreats while your feet lose contact with the board surface and by propelling yourself forward you clear the end of the board.    With arms and legs flailing about and the body in free fall towards the water the next challenge is getting into the water without hitting the water broadside.    Kersplash …  the next part is getting back above the surface of the water and in a few seconds your head breaks through and with one big gulp of air you realize you made it and a sense of relief passes through the body.

Getting to the end of the diving board for the first time and making the decision to leap, jump or dive was an experience that only happens once.  Once the event is over it is either safe to do it again or not.   For most people the experience is worth repeating again and again.    After a few tires then experimenting and doing new launches off the board seems OK, fear now become excitement.

It was a risk to make that first jump at least it felt risky.  How did you get there?

1. You made a decision (ok, I am ready, I am going to do it)
2. You anticipated the event  (increased heart rate)
3. You took action (overcame the internal resistance)
4. You observed the results (it was better than you thought)
5. Your confidence increased (it was safe, go do it again)

If you go back to that very first time, you may have watched a friend go jump off of the diving board and as they were “in the air” they yelled “come try it, it’s fun!”) and as you watched you were thinking “maybe it is or I’m not so sure it will work for me” and it may have been a moment where all you could respond with “No, it doesn’t look like fun and I have to go”.   A quick risk reduction step,  an excuse to do something else, so that you wouldn’t have to take that first step.

You left the swimming pool and walked away, not taking that change, or risk to leap off the diving board into the cool water.  You missed having the fun of flying into the air and landing with a splash of laughter and joy, thinking next time I’ll try, next time I’ll jump into the air and experience what looks like to be so much fun, only if it weren’t so scary.

Not long ago I was talking with someone who wanted to make a change but was afraid of taking that step.   Fear gripped his words, ”  I’d like to but  (notice the but) I’m not sure it will work”, and so in a moment of indecision backed off, and  retreated to a place that felt  safer.   It was like walking away from the pool knowing that everyone else was having fun but that first jump, that first dive, just looked like it was too risky to take, maybe next time.

What are you waiting for, next time?

What is your risk taking score?

“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