I remember a summer when I was visiting my sister. I had traveled from Chicago, IL to Minnesota with two young kids, ages 2 and 4. She also had two little kids and the four of them played together beautifully. I recall during this visit I had left the room for a few minutes and returned to see my two-year-old son standing on the top of a glass table. My older sister was just sitting there, which surprised me at the time. I lifted him from his perch and set him down, informing him not to climb on the table again. My sister looked at me and said, “I was considering if I should take him down or not, and I was a little nervous watching him stand on the table. But I tried to guess what you’d do, and I figured you’d allow it since you let your kids take a lot of risks.”
This floored me. I had never considered myself much of a risk-taker, so that comment provoked some introspection. I realized that my definition of a “risk taker” created the context by which I judged myself. I noticed that I do take risks, but certain elements will either encourage or discourage me from doing so. This isn’t just true for me. Everyone has a certain make-up that draws out their confidence or their fear when presented with any risk.
First, let’s define risk-taking so that we are all on the same wave. Risk-taking is the act of going forward into an unknown when there is a chance that something you value could be lost. The greater the value, the higher the risk. The more clouded the unknowns are, the greater the risk. We live in the world of low risk decisions and meet them head-on without much thinking every day. Every time we get in our car and drive to the store, we are facing the unknowns of other drivers, sudden weather changes, a tire blowout, some dude with road rage, but the value of getting to where we want to go outweighs the risk. We also face high-risk opportunities every day and decide to sit them out. Something we value could be lost, and the unknowns deter us from stepping forward. Sometimes we surprise ourselves when we take a big risk. For some reason, we say yes instead of no. A lot of your risk-taking behavior can be predicted by your personality.
Your personality can actually offer some significant, bright insights into your relationship with risk-taking. Some people, like me, are drawn to the risk-taking that brings fun, comradery, new opportunities or the chance to inspire others. They don’t need much more than a spark of possibility, a group of enthusiastic people, and freedom to do it creatively to jump head-long into the adventure. My husband is drawn to risk-taking like a duck to water. It’s in his blood and is essential for life. When risk-taking offers him challenge, personal advancement, and the chance to take the lead, I have learned to get out of his way! He will charge forward, often without looking at all the details, believing he can fix any problems along the way.
Maybe this isn't you.
Some personalities resist risk-taking, but are the best at coming behind others, offering support and encouragement, while staying outside of the line of impact. They won’t lead the charge; they prefer to remain in the safe pace of routine and predictability. But these are the people that are happy to do the less exciting background support. They may not take risks, but without them, this world would fall apart. There is another personality type that doesn’t just resist risk, but they can talk others out of taking risks. They are the most calculating, analytical, and critical minds of all. They will question and puzzle through a risky circumstance, consider all the angles and possible outcomes, and make a decision when it isn’t a risk anymore.
So, some of us are natural risk-takers. Some of us are natural risk-killers. Some of us fall somewhere in between. However, all of us grow more resilient, creative, and confident by taking risks. We all can accomplish important, worthwhile things for ourselves and others by taking risk.
Each of us have our strengths as well as our challenges that may lead us to success or failure in the process. Some act without thinking, and that can create problems for families, teams and themselves. Some are excellent starters but lose their focus and don’t finish. Some are so hesitant in making decisions that they make their decision by not making the decision. Some see the unknowns as a challenge to control and drive everyone around them crazy. We all have our ways.
Whether it’s taking a risk by speaking our truth despite opposition, starting an organization or business before fully ready, inviting guests over when hospitality isn’t a natural strength, setting boundaries with a difficult person, or allowing your teen to step out more toward independence, facing your own risk with strength and courage brings success regardless of how that thing turns out. There are always unknowns. There will be elements outside of our control that impact the outcome. But taking a risk, especially when something we value is at stake, is part of living an abundant, fulfilling life. It requires us to understand our weaknesses, lean into our strengths, acquire outside resources, and grow comfortable with the unknown.
The key is understanding the unique person you are. With more self-awareness, we can also more understand, relate, and adapt to working successfully with others. DISC personality coaching provides a way to gain insights into why we feel, think and act how we do, and provides growth for us to appreciate, understand, communicate and value all people. As a Certified Life Coach and Certified Human Behavior Consultant, I can partner with you individually, or with your team, and help you LOVE risk-taking.
In my perfect world, I make Swedish pancakes in the morning. I make Swedish pancakes, and they are wholesome and lovely, and they set the tone of the day: cheery, efficient, spontaneous and meaningful. All of that, right there. Now let's talk reality: Waffles in the toaster, left-over pizza, goldfish and grapes or whatever the kids decide to tackle. And, I am out the door quick to grab an iced coffee to kick my mind into motion. I am NOT a morning person. I am not up early enough to make Swedish pancakes, even when I decide to get up early. And my mind wants to battle this out with me every morning.
Not a morning person, either? Keep reading to learn my Jedi mind trick to get out of bed in under 10 seconds.
If Only My Mind Would Behave.
The mind is so much more than a collection of neurons, dendrites, and axons. Our minds are really the element of us that composes our ideas, opinions, emotions, reflections, biases, zeal, and beliefs. The mind is a direct influencer to what you and I say and do. And nearly every morning, I have a decision to make: will my mind be in control of me today, or will I be in control of my mind?
Consider the typically unchallenged thought, "I'm not a morning person". I believe it is true and attached to that are a list of behaviors and standards I apply automatically. What thought do you accept about you as if it is an absolute truth not to be challenged or changed? The simple belief that I am not a morning person is just the starting point. My mind will lead me on a pathway of zero resistance. I will not make Swedish pancakes or develop any new routines or habits that are outside the acceptable patterns of my "non-morning-personhood". All these patterns, habits, and excuses begin inside my mind without my active consent -- and this happens for you, too!
Sometimes the beliefs we hold onto as IDENTIFYING us SHOULD be challenged. Actually, I believe that most of the beliefs we have that limit us must be challenged. When my 7th grade teacher told me that I wasn't very smart --a "D" grade for me was like other students getting a "B"-- it should have been challenged. Messages that define you, whether they come from parents, teachers, peers, or ourselves, have a way of attaching themselves and burrowing into us. They take deep root and then branch out their tangly, skinny, hairy sub-roots, touching many areas of our lives. The teacher's statement, and the message given to me from other adults, impacted many decisions, including my final decision on a college major. It wasn't until I entered graduate school that I dared to consider, "What if what I believed about my intelligence wasn't true?"
What If That Isn't True?
I'm not a morning person. What if that isn't true? What if something in that defining statement is NOT true? What would that mean? Could I start the morning differently? If that is true now, does that mean it needs to stay true tomorrow? As we dare to challenge our beliefs, one question leads us to the next one and to new discoveries. What if I find that I am not a morning person, and will remain a non-morning person. What defines me as not a morning person? Is it because I get up at 7:45 am instead of 5:00 am and don't like to make a mess of dishes right away? Now I'm getting to something.
Get curious. Get crazy curious about the beliefs that limit you. You need to have the curiosity of determined, feisty, child version of you -- like when you were younger and didn't want to accept the limits.
What if the thing you believed about yourself wasn't true? The power in this question can lead you right to the edge of your comfort zone. It can lead to a huge breakthrough. It can give you the confidence to pursue your dream. It can also shake you up, surfacing some uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. Truth has a way of doing that. It's a hard question to ask ourselves. Our minds strive to keep us in safety, so it may resist the questions that bring us to the edge of the unknown. Your mind may push your limiting beliefs right in front of your face, playing out all the reasons why you can't, you won't, you shouldn't, including examples in HD and surround sound. Often, we need someone else to help us through the process as a sounding board and as a non-judgemental, impartial partner.
I'm not a morning person.
Yeah, by some people's standards, I'm not a morning person. But this question led me to understand that I want to get up a little earlier each day, but NOT because I want to make Swedish pancakes. I actually don't want to have a mess to clean up in the morning and prefer a simple, easy breakfast routine. This question also led me to understand that I am smarter than the adults of my childhood told me I was. A few years ago, it helped me discover I can create an organization from the ground up that successfully serves many families in my area. Two years ago, this question helped me discover that I can start my own business. It also helped me gain clarity on what I truly value, how to overcome my weak areas, and a better way to help my children discover their motivation to do school work. Have I convinced you yet of the power of this question? Want to work together to challene your limiting beliefs and gain clarity on what is keeping you from leading your life forward with joy? I can't wait to talk with you!
Oohh! I promised you my trick to getting out of bed in less than 10 seconds! Here it is!