I never viewed myself as a risk taker.
But this question came up while we were watching a movie the other night. In the movie, The Last Word, Shirley MacLaine plays a retired businesswoman named Harriet, who asks a young obituary writer named Anne, played by Amanda Seyfried, to write her obituary before she dies. You see, she wants to control it, just like she has controlled everything else her entire life.
Harriet advocates taking risks. When she sees Anne playing it safe in her life, her advice is…
“Fall on your face. Fail. Fail spectacularly. Because when you fail, you learn. When you fail, you live.”
She encourages her not to be afraid to make mistakes.
“You don’t make mistakes. Mistakes make you. Mistakes make you smarter. They make you stronger, and they make you more self-reliant.”
I can’t imagine my parents ever encouraging me to fail.
In fact, they didn’t. But I never gave that advice to my children either. Instead, as parents, and as a society in general, we encourage people to strive for success. And isn’t failure the opposite of success?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn’t that Harriet wanted Anne to make mistakes and fail. Just as we don’t want to make mistakes and fail, or have our kids do so. It was more about not playing it safe. And as a result, missing out on the fullness of life.
Turns out I am a risk taker.
I thought about it some more and realized I have taken many risks in my life. As I wrote about recently, I got married very young. I suppose that was a risk. I’ve left jobs and businesses behind because they were no longer fulfilling, unsure of what I was going to do next. That’s most certainly a risk. I’ve started many businesses. For sure that’s risky. And some of those business ventures did indeed fail.
But I never viewed any of these things as risks.
I saw them as following my heart, doing what I felt called to do, and yes, following inspiration.
I believe to Live Inspired you must take risks.
You can’t play it safe. You must step outside of your comfort zone. It’s about being willing to make mistakes and fail. Knowing that you’ll be stronger for your struggles. And, as Harriet says in the movie, “mistakes make you smarter” and “when you fail, you learn.”