Ability To Risk And Fail
Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson was born in Jamaica and emigrated to Ontario as a 14-year-old. As with most emigres he struggled to assimilate to the new country but found acceptance through his athletic deeds. He was incredibly fast.
As a teenager he was selected to join the Canada Team and ran in the Commonwealth Games winning two second place silver medals in the 100-meter dash and 4 x 100 relays. Following at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles he won the third-place bronze medal right behind the winner Carl Lewis.
Track and field was hyper competitive in the 1980’s as was the use of steroids. Numerous Olympic athletes pushed out their risk tolerance and tried to get an edge by using steroids. During the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Ben Johnson took first place winning the gold medal in the 100-meter dash. Unfortunately, a few days later he was disqualified for a positive drug test. Greatness calls for pushing the boundaries of risk, yet it can never pass ethical boundaries.
Olympians do amazing things, that puts them in a vulnerable position of potentially failing on a global stage just to achieve greatness. They easily could fail on center stage becoming a joke. Yet, to achieve greatness a person must put it all on the line.
Olympians are highly prepared but there’s always a possibility something could go wrong. That is the price for pushing boundaries. Doing a feat that has never been done before by mankind requires going into the unknown.
This is no different from the office. As a professional you can take chances or play it safe. Playing it safe leads to comfort and a long mediocre career. Taking large risks can lead to greatness and great failures.
A fair question to ask on risk is if people get better at determining risk with age due to their experience or is it due to them growing risk adverse. Both maybe true but experience helps the most with proficiency. Having seen situations before and being better at judging outcomes.
If and then patterns become the basis of risk estimation. Throughout life your mind will observe, experiment, and model actions to understand cause and effect. The human mind performs this subconsciously we call it intuition.
Time teaches how to anticipate problems to prevent them. This is modeled in the game of chess developing second order thinking. Truly being ready means understanding what could go wrong and having a plan to deal with it.
All time basketball great, Michael Jordan grew a second love of golf after he retired. It gave him a competitive outlet that paired with his penchant for gambling. During rounds with others, they would typically put money down on the outcomes. When deciding how much to bet, Jordan would respond with “whatever made you nervous.” The match meant something then, and it made the person nervous.
In life you want to be just over the edge of comfortable. Billionaire Rupert Murdoch went bankrupt as he amassed his business, with great risk comes great reward. The same can happen to you but know that risk wanes with age.
Are you ok with being just, ok? The impact of being left as average isn’t bad, in fact it is very comfortable. Risk is leaving your comfort zone with the hopes to achieve something better; it is risking your current state of being.
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