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Risk vs. Payoff

I love to gamble. Super Bowl pools, scratch-off lottery tickets, craps, 3 card poker and even an occasional stop at a slot machine. For me, it’s all about the excitement of the bells, the triple-checking of the half-time score, a roll of ten “the hard way” right after I pressed it another ten dollars. When you succeed, those gambles are addicting.

“Risk – the hazard or chance of loss.”

For me, risk is about playing with what you’re willing to lose. At the casino, and in life and love. To me, it’s not about being reckless with no regard to consequences. If I walk away with more than I showed up with, fantastic. I only play with what I’m willing to lose in the first place, so if it goes, so be it. For me, the hardest part is establishing and sticking to your limit.

I’m a risk-taker. I enjoy the uneasiness of putting my raw self out there. A few months before I met my husband I almost picked up and moved clear across the country to the opposite coast just to be uncomfortable and do something crazy. My limit, however, didn’t consist of not having a job before I got there, so when I didn’t receive any job offers, I didn’t end up leaving NJ.

I got “the card” in the mail about Team in Training and assumed it was a scam. Train for a marathon, raise money and travel free for a weekend? No way. Well I took a chance and signed up to walk a half marathon (13.1 miles) in New Orleans. Still involved 10 years later, I’ve made life-long friends, physical achievements and have been inspired by more people than I can count. The risk, minimal. The payoff, priceless and truly life-changing.

I asked for a promotion once, and risked looking like an over-confident 20-something year old. I got the promotion. I’ve asked people for money risking hearing “No” over and over throughout the years. I’ve raised tens of thousands of dollars to cure blood cancers. I recently registered for a triathlon without knowing how to swim, risking the embarrassment of having to man-up if I wussed out.  I’m positive I’m not going to be the last one across the finish line, and there is no way I’m wussing out. The satisfaction once completed is unimaginable to me today.

Do the risks I take always end with a happy ending? Not a chance. I once left a job for another, (open and honestly) decided it wasn’t for me, went back to job #1 and was promptly laid off. I’ve driven in snow and had accidents. I’ve chosen to focus on the “wrong” priorities and let the “right” ones suffer.

But here’s the secret I’ve learned. If the risk you take results in loss within your “limit”, you still have the opportunity to gain even more in the long run by the lesson learned. I needed to take that job because it taught me that the grass isn’t always greener. I needed to have that fender bender and the crap scared out of me so that I know when it’s too dangerous to drive. I may never learn to prioritize because there are just too many and that’s ok. Because I expect to learn until the day I die, and the people who surround me get that.

Our limits differ from person to person and that’s ok.

You know those people. Heck, you might even be one. The ones who do the same things day in, day out. I was one. Same schedule, same meals, same activities, same old, same old, same old. ZZzzzzzz… The investment is always the same. If something great happens to them, it’s usually just because… it happened. Now if they shook things up a bit and succeeded at something they’ve always been too afraid to try, could you imagine the resulting enthusiasm?

So when was the last time you put yourself out there? Really said what was on your mind because you felt it was right, or did something crazy with the confidence that the outcome would be a positive one? When was the last time you took a chance and honestly risked something important because you were confident you knew what you were doing?

Tell her how you feel. Speak up in your next staff-meeting. Ride that roller-coaster you think might give you a panic attack. Take more chances and experience the addiction and elation that comes from winning after putting something valuable on the line. I’m not talking about dropping your life savings on black the next time you walk past a roulette table. But if you have an extra chip or two, why not bet a little more?


About Mile Stones

Original race bib coasterizer. Team in Training Coach, Fundraising Mentor, 13 year alum. Gemini. Hater of easy. Go big or go big.

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