I think that we're all probably familiar with the fairground rant 'take a chance, win a prize'. Whenever I hear this call to action, I immediately break out into a cold sweat. Whether the test is to knock down 6 cans in pyramid formation or to throw a dart at a balloon, I'm there, almost hypnotically, pulling coins out of my pocket. And it doesn't really matter what prizes are on offer either. It could be stuffed panda bears, bubble makers or even Velcro wallets. What's important to me is rising to the challenge and having a go.
Now I know that many of you may have suffered from this 'fairground fever' at one time or another. But do you actually take this fearless enthusiasm out into the real world when the carnival is over?
Taking a chance is effectively doing something that has an uncertain payoff. To use our fairground adventure as an example - playing a game where there is a chance you might win a prize and a chance that you might not. Now as nice as it is to win prizes, it is important not to become side tracked into believing that this is the only reason you should play the game, because it isn't. To become players of life, we need to be continually growing and expanding our capabilities regardless of the outcome.
When we step outside of what is comfortable, not only do we become more adept at assessing risk in the future but our innate ability to handle risk is also greatly enhanced. It is from this space that you will find the prizes of life flowing naturally to you.
Can you remember your last encounter with someone that was truly fearless? Someone brimming with self confidence, unquestionable enthusiasm and the bravado to take seemingly impossible risks? Chances are that person probably couldn't walk, let alone string a sentence together. That's right, the most fearless people on the planet are the little humans we call children.
You can do anything
When we come into this world, we believe that we can do absolutely anything. We play, we experiment and we push the boundaries of our existence on a daily basis. Why? Because it's fun and because we're curious about the world that we live in. We constantly search out unexplored frontiers with a wild fascination, often with little consideration for the accompanying risks. Slowly but surely however, most of us become convinced by well meaning adults that we are anything other than invincible.
Become aware of your conditioning
It is said that by the time each of us reaches the age of 5, we have heard the word "no" more than 40,000 times! Can you remember a parent or parental figure telling you to 'be careful' every time you went off to school or to play? Now I am not suggesting for a moment that making children aware of life's dangers isn't a great approach to take as a parent. What I am saying is as a grown adult, become aware of any childhood conditioning that may be holding you back from taking intelligent risks.
Have you ever experienced a time where there was something new that you desperately wanted to try, but for some unidentifiable reason you couldn't bring yourself to give it a go and you regretted it afterwards? There is a good possibility that this could be linked with your early associations with risk taking. Just remember that we don't always have to play life on the safe side. Often our greatest triumphs come from daring to engage our courage.
Love the game
The secret to taking chances is to reconnect with the fearless little person inside of you. Make life fun again by reawakening the inquisitive parts of you that yearn for growth. Rekindle your drive to be more and do more. Start doing things for the pure joy of the experience. Climb a tree, play hide and seek with your work colleagues and if you pass a puddle on the street don't step around it, jump in it!
If you can capture this enthusiasm for living you won't have to worry about the prizes. Your life will become the prize.
Copyright Damien Senn 2005. All rights reserved.
About the Author: Damien Senn is a Life and Business Coach as well as a fully qualified Chartered Accountant. He helps professionals, artists and entrepreneurs create compelling futures. He is the author of the 'Senn-Sational Success Journal' and has developed his own coaching model called the 'Senn-Sational Success System'.