For some reason, the past twelve months have presented me with an unusual amount of opportunity to take risks. Some of them I have taken, while others I have dismissed. The decision whether or not to take these risks was a rather boring process—with level-headed consideration about what risks would actually benefit me, and what risks would offer only a moment of adrenaline with little reward.
Some risks that I took on were minor: taking on a new project that fell outside of my skillset; offering up my work for peer reviews; wearing fire-engine-red lipstick for the first time in lieu of my standard nude gloss. One risk, however, was not just new, but HUGE. A risk where every part about it was foreign, undiscovered, uncomfortable, and unnerving.
I decided to try out for a position as a back up singer on a stage that entertains over 4000 people in a single day. I’ve never done anything like it before, but the risk supported something that I have wanted to try since I was a young girl. If I fail? Whoa, that would be totally embarrassing! I will regret putting myself out there, and have egg on my face in front of all those who I told I was taking this on. But if I succeed? If I “make” it and am given the opportunity to do something I love, and am validated by other talented singers? Awesome! Inspiring. Maybe even life changing.
So, in the two weeks between learning about the audition and the actual audition day, I did absolutely everything I could to prepare: I logged in 12 hours with a singing coach, memorized lyrics, harmonies and melodies, slept with a humidifier, steamed my vocal chords, gargled salt water, honey and herbal tea, and practiced every relaxation method know to man trying not to freak out. And when the day came, I DID freak out, but… I DID IT.
So… I took the risk, but was there REWARD?
To be totally honest, I knew I didn’t do my best. I had trouble loosening up my voice, lost the harmony in parts, and clumsily answered a few of the interview questions. But I did my best, and when I walked out, rather than feeling embarrassed and defeated, I felt amazing! Through the process, I learned that I could take on new things without dying from the fear. I learned that what is left after the fear subsides is GROWTH.
As I look back at my most memorable accomplishments, I’m not surprised to realize that the ones I’m most proud of are those that had the highest amount of risk. Those events have had the most impact on who I am today.
I encourage each and every one of you to do something risky this year. Whether tha means embracing the challenge of a small risk in business (weighing, of course, that risk against the rewards), or simply the opportunity to take on something you have always wondered about, it will inevitably present itself to you. You may even subconsciously manifest the opportunity. So, go ahead and measure the risk—as that’s the smart thing to do—but if the biggest issue is your FEAR, just take it on and see what happens. The reward may have nothing to do with the outcome.
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