What's the Worst Thing That Could Happen?
Some of my least favorite words in the English language begin with the letter “C:”
Comfort zone (okay that’s really two words—I know…)
All of these feel so limiting to me because I’ve never been the kind of person who can color within the lines. I’ve always been, if not rebellious, at least someone who chafes under the bonds of restriction. In other words—if you tell me I can’t, I’m going to need you to give me a REALLY good reason why before I go ahead and try it anyway. Sometimes this works out to my advantage---sometimes it doesn’t—but either way it’s a calculated risk on my part that usually starts with the question, “What is the worst thing that could happen?”
For better or worse, I have passed this trait along to my oldest son who, at 17, will be leaving home in the fall to start a new chapter of his life. From the day he was born he has challenged practically everything that has been presented to him—including, sometimes, my patience. I swear the first word he ever spoke was, “why?” He is definitely a “what have I got to lose?’” kind of guy, weighing pros and cons before going after what he wants---often without fear of failure or retribution. It’s one of my favorite things about him—most of the time…
Recently, he decided that going to the movies with his friends after he had been told “no” was worth the loss of his phone and other privileges throughout the rest of his holiday break. As his mother I was furious! But as a person who shares his thought process I totally get it. I would’ve probably done it too, truth be told—and probably did at his age. And while part of me applauded (sort of) his careful weighing of his options and the well-thought out text I received informing me of his plan and explaining his reasoning (after the fact) the other part of me was trying to come up with consequences he wasn’t counting on---but he took them all in stride, having already calculated the risk and committed to the outcome. Teen: 1. Mom: 0
There’s a line in one of my favorite Coldplay songs that asks the question, “Where’d you wanna go, how much you wanna risk?” I play this song a lot in my cycle classes because that line speaks to what I, and my son apparently, are intrinsically motivated by: risk. I’m not talking about careless or harmful risks like driving while intoxicated or pouring all your money into a bad business venture. I’m talking about doing whatever it takes to affect positive changes in your life--even if that means risking perceived failure. If you want something different, you have to do something different. You have to assess the risk, and make an informed decision.
Some of my favorite words in the English language also begin with the letter "C:"
That’s what it takes to be a risk taker. You have to take a deep breath, and challenge yourself to just go for it. In the case of my riders, it means cranking up that resistance or pushing a little faster. For my athletes, it means picking up that heavier dumbbell. What is the worst thing that could happen? You do fewer reps? You take a little resistance off? That is not failure---nor is it anything you should feel embarrassed about. That is progress—and that is growth. That is doing a little more than you did the day before until you are doing what you never dreamed possible.
The author Brene Brown (who is one of my personal idols) says, “You can choose courage or you can choose comfort. You cannot have both.” When it comes to making positive changes in your life—which will you choose? A couple of minutes of discomfort—or a lifetime of “what if?”