I’ve got a couple of hours before the cab comes to pick our family up and take us to the airport to go to Australia. Bags are packed, everything is good to go – so I’m doing what I love doing – thinking and writing.
As I think about this trip I’m conscious of the factors that have contributed to our building an international business, particularly in Australia – and as a result, why we now have the chance to travel to exotic locations, and give incredible learning experiences to our kids.
I’m reflective, and grateful, at the blessings that exist in our life right now, the freedom, the flexibility, the empowerment and fulfillment.
Without a doubt, perhaps the most important factor, in all of this coming about, is that,
We have been willing, repeatedly, to risk failure, risk losing money, risk “being wrong”, risk being mocked, risk the tempting pull of secure, but less fulfilling pursuits, to pursue a path that we felt in our heart was right.
When we first started our business in 2009 we had many people tell us that it was too “hobbyish” to really build a significant income stream. When we started to travel throughout Canada, and use the Internet heavily to spread the product, we encountered similar resistance.
When I quit my law job in 2012 to double up our efforts on our vision, we had so many people think that we were nuts, and that I was going through a mid-life crisis.
When international borders opened for the product we were quick to “put our money where our dreams were”, and invest to personally travel to these new locations to spread the product and opportunity.
In every step of our “story” we’ve had lots of “failure potential”, and by no means has every step taken been successful. We have encountered lots of failure, lots of rejection, lots of “well meaning advice” telling us not to dream so big, and now that we are starting to see success, it can be tempting to ease off on the “risk pedal”. It can be tempting to start playing safe.
There is a difference obviously between “reckless abandon” and “calculated and intelligent risk taking”; however, because the subject of risk is such a deeply personal interpretation many people’s paradigms are vastly different.
What may seem to be “calculated and intelligent risk taking” by us can easily be interpreted as “reckless abandon” by others, and in many situations this has actually been the case in our life. As a result, there is no “objective standard” as to what is the right risk to take, and what is the wrong risk – remember it is a “risk” right! You have to do what your heart says is right, and ignore everything (and everyone) else.
I believe however that you cannot live a fulfilling life, unless you are willing to take risks, even if those risks are interpreted in another’s paradigm as the “reckless” kind.
If your heart sings for a path, you take it, because even if you don’t reap the fruits of the risk, you still learn, you still grow, you still feel empowered, and you grow in personal complexity – and when you start succeeding, when you finally, after all those years in the desert, get to the well and taste the cold water, you still have to be willing to go on another adventure. Because one day the well will run dry.
We need risk as human beings. Uncertainty, I believe, is a basic human need, and too much certainty can lead to boredom and a lack of engagement in life.
In may ways life is a lot like a pendulum – one side represents the “potential for fulfillment”, and the other side represents the “potential for loss or pain (ie. risk”).
A pendulum swings the same distance in each direction, so if you are only willing to barely move it on the side of “potential loss” then the result of that hesitancy is that the pendulum can only swing back a very small distance on the side of “potential fulfillment”.
The people who are willing to swing that thing full tilt do run a much greater risk of loss, but they also have a much greater chance at being fulfilled. So we each get to choose the extent that we want our individual pendulums to swing.
So if you aren’t feeling fulfillment in your life, and your work, there is probably a good chance that you are holding tight to that pendulum.
Give it a big swing, it might surprise you what will happen.