Everyday we encounter many opportunities to take a risk. How we respond to that opportunity is often determined by our feelings and emotions, such as our fears and perceptions about something.
This article will explore how fear of risk taking can drive our decisions and limit us from achieving greater success. You will learn how illogical many of your fears are and will hopefully feel encouraged and motivated to challenge yourself to overcome these fears.
If this sounds like something you would like to challenge yourself on then keep reading and you will learn how to get rid of your fear of risk taking and achieve great success in your life!
What does it mean to take a risk?
Taking a risk involves an act whereby you have the potential to either lose or gain something of value. Simply put, risk taking equals uncertainty.
For some, uncertainty can be very scary! Uncertainty means the possibility of failure, rejection, humiliation and more. Over time, we can develop a pattern where we avoid taking risks because it is too uncomfortable. After a certain point, we become unaware of that fact that we are avoiding taking risks.
This is where self-awareness comes in. When it comes to the decisions you make, it is important to reflect upon what is influencing them and to ask yourself “are my decisions being determined by a fear of some sort?” You will begin to notice how many of your decisions are impacted by a subconscious fear.
So lets have a look at some of the different reasons you might be afraid of taking a risk. This way you can reflect on yourself and assess whether any of them apply to you.
What are you afraid of when it comes to risk taking?
- Fear of failure
- Fear of rejection or humiliation
- Fear of change
Fear of failure is one of the biggest fears that people have when taking a risk. Fear of failure is closely linked to fear of rejection, change and humiliation. We are afraid of what others will think of us and that we will not be good enough. Most people limit themselves from achieving what they are truly capable of because they are afraid of failure.
When we focus on the possibilities of failure, rejection or humiliation, it fills our attention and all we want to do is avoid the situation. If you have a tendency to focus on these factors, you will begin to avoid taking risks subconsciously and you will lose track of the benefits and the things that you can gain from taking the risk.
The benefits of risk taking
Walt Disney quotes:
“Our dreams can come true – if we have the courage to pursue them”
It is through taking risks that we are able to reach our full potential and achieve greater things. It is fear that makes us ineffective. Although success is never guaranteed, more often than not, fear is illogical. What you are afraid of is often an unlikely outcome!! (I will expand on this in the next heading)
Michel De Montaigne quotes:
“He who fears he will suffer, already suffers because he fears”
What is important to understand is that most of the time failure cannot hurt you. It is fear of failure that will cripple you.
I will give a great example below of how fear of failure can impact upon your decision to take a risk and how a lot of your fears are illogical or unlikely. I hope that this will give you a new perspective and encourage you to take my challenge below!
Challenge yourself in risk taking
When I was studying self-development at university, we explored this very topic. As I reflected on myself, I began to notice how afraid I was of rejection and failure. I realized that I would avoid so many opportunities to take a risk, and overtime I just accepted it. It became my normal response to taking a risk.
However, as I was challenged in this area during my self-development unit, I decided that I didn’t like giving into fear. I felt determined to overcome it. I began to realize how crippling fear was and….how silly it really was. This is because most of the things that we are afraid of are actually UNLIKELY outcomes!
Here is an illustration below.
I wanted my lecturer at university to write me a reference letter to help with a scholarship that I was applying for. So what was I afraid of?
- I was afraid that my lecturer would think….”what!…a reference letter for you…I don’t want to refer you, your not good enough to write a reference letter for”
- I was afraid that he would say no and that I would feel rejected
- I was afraid that he would later ask “so, how did the application go” and I would say “oh, I didn’t get accepted”. And then I would feel like a failure.
- I was afraid that other people would hear about it and that I would feel embarrassed.
Firstly, all of those things may be reasonable worries to have however if they came to pass, what would have been the worst thing that happened? I would have felt embarrassed, rejected, humiliated…but so what! Should that really stop me from asking for a reference letter that could potentially get me an amazing scholarship!
Secondly, the craziest part is that I was getting REALLY good grades and my lecturer seemed highly invested in me. In fact, out of three years of studying and about 20 different lecturers, he seemed to believe in me more than any other! But I still managed to rationalize my fears and the idea of avoiding the risk.
This example shows just how afraid of failure and rejection we can be and how it can limit us from achieving so much! It also shows us how a lot of the time, what we are afraid of are actually unlikely outcomes or even illogical fears!
So…I challenge you with the same challenge I gave myself
When I began to notice just how silly my fear of risk taking was, I challenged myself. I decided that every time I encountered an opportunity to take a risk (and of course risk failure or rejection) I had to take it! This was more related to daily risks such as the example above as oppose to something crazy like sky-diving.
As I did this, I felt liberated! I began to feel so excited by all the good things that resulted in my risk taking. For example, my lecturer happily wrote me a reference letter. This was a great addition to my application and also gave me a big boost of confidence. I also learned a lot about myself and was able to overcome a big part of my fear of rejection and failure by realizing just how silly it was.
So, I encourage you to take my challenge. Every time that you encounter an opportunity to take a risk…do it! (even just for one week). I’m sure that you will be pleasantly surprised by the outcomes. You will also become a lot more self-aware and will realize how many illogical fears you have built up overtime.