Most people are really poor at evaluating risk and reward. For instance. have you ever been willing to bet $10 on a roulette wheel or the slot machine even though the odds are better than 50% that you will lose? What about buying lottery tickets? Are those wise decisions when compared to your usual logical assessments?
On the other hand, how willing are you to take social risks, like going up to a stranger and saying hello? The risk is almost exactly zero, but the potential payoff is huge. Yet, not many people will take this perceived risk even though this is a nearly perfect situation with very low risk involved, and is potentially very rewarding.
What about more important matters? Are you assessing your life choices wisely? Your actions are largely determined by where you choose to focus your attention. If you emphasize the positive aspects of something and minimize the downside, you are much more likely to take an action. If you have the opposite focus, you are not very likely to move from the spot that you are in.
For any of the big decision you may currently be facing, try walking through this quick exercise and see if it can help you gain some new perspective.
Are you truly considering all the ways the risk could pay off? In our example above, you could make a new friendship. You might get a new career out of it. You might meet your spouse or a new golfing buddy. Think about all the potential benefits of taking the risk you have in mind. Make a list if that will help you sort things out.
People will often try to minimize the upside potential of something as an excuse, yes, and excuse, to not move forward. Strive to be honest and accurate with yourself. Avoid giving in to anxiety and making light of, or blowing off the potential rewards ahead. People who allow themselves to be guided by fear tend to have smaller and less satisfying lives.
Are you maximizing or minimizing the downside of your every day decision? Are you focused on the fact that you might be embarrassed or rebuffed? Or do you tell yourself that it is really no big deal and that at the very least they may be flattered your attention? One approach will get you moving forward and headed toward where you want to go. The other will likely keep you stuck exactly where you are.
Maximizing the imagined risk is a certain way to stay where you are… stuck. Minimizing the risk will make it much easier to move forward. Sometimes you have to choose to pull those big girl panties up and wade into the fear. But remember, be accurate with yourself. If you are 100% honest, you will see that you probably have almost nothing to actually lose and potentially everything to gain.
Letting Go of Ego
Imagine, for a moment, that you are completely free of any concern about what anyone else thinks about you. Really sit and think about this for a minute. What would you do, that you aren’t already do now? How would your life change? How would you be different? Just imagine the freedom you would have to move through the world according to your deepest needs and desires.
If you can learn to laugh at yourself and not take everything too seriously, you will arrive at your desired goal much better off. You can choose to laugh more at yourself now and smile when you get older, or you can kick yourself when you get older because you squandered so many opportunities. Be brave!
The next time you are faced with a decision that involves your ego, think about and focus on the actual risk involved rather than an overblown imagined risk. The average person’s aversion to embarrassing himself is an almost overwhelming handicap that can get in the way of reaping all of the great and wonderful things that life has to offer.
Do your best to accurately assess risk and then take the action that makes the most sense. Trust me, this gets easier every time. And. before you know it, your friends will say you are the bravest person they know.
What pursuits have you been denying yourself?
And…what do you plan to do about it today or this week?