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Risk, Change, and The Beginning of the End of my Beginning

Written by Dan Linton

Change is inevitable. Growth is optional. – John C. Maxwell

I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to avoid change, because change involves risk. I haven’t liked risk for a very long time. Taking a risk meant I might fail, which could result in me suffering in some way, either immediately or by ending up in a worse situation than I was before.

Staying still, regardless of how steep the cost of not moving, was better than the risk of taking a single step.

This fear of failing has resulted in me developing some unique tools, including what I like to call “the analyst” inside of me. The analyst tells me that if I have enough information about a decision, I can make that decision with zero risk. So when faced with a decision, the analyst likes to go out trying to collect more and more…and more… and more… information. The decision required never gets made because the analyst is sure there will always be one other piece of information that will tip the scales, so rather than decide I just keep looking for more data.

This often called “analysis paralysis”, and the result is that I often never make a decision at all. The little fib my thoughts tell myself is that I don’t yet have enough information, but the reality is that I’m REALLY good at avoiding risk, and this tool is an excellent means to that end.

Making a decision also means that you might succeed. Some decisions will be correct, other’s won’t, but you can’t succeed without taking that risk. A wager must be put on the table to have a chance of winning. As I’ve been learning here at NextStage, the only person holding myself back is myself – because I’m too afraid of losing to put my money down.

The bigger fallacy behind this is that I thought avoiding risk was safer – it’s not.

Taking a risk by making a decision will result in change to be sure – maybe success or maybe failure – but change is going to happen anyway whether I like it or not. Everything around us (and within us) is changing constantly. I can’t stop the world from turning, so making a decision is the only way I have any hope of control. Not doing so means I’m completely at the mercy of my environment, I’m flailing around in a river clinging to a tree branch, barely able to keep afloat while the current takes me who knows where, and bangs me up against rocks I never saw coming.

I’d rather swim – the rocks are coming no matter what, maybe I can avoid a few. With some Practice, I’ll be able to poke my head up a bit and see what’s coming.

I’ve realized lately that I’m at the beginning of the end of my beginning with The Practice. Change is coming for me whether I like it or not, and I can feel myself wanting to stay where I am because it’s comfortable, and the unknown is risky. There is far more to come, new teachers, new experiences, new learnings to be had – an incredible life is waiting for me. But if I stay where I am, I’ll never know how far I can go.

It’s time for me to take a risk, let go of my tree branch and start to swim.

How about you?

About the author

Dan Linton

Dan likes video games, pizza, and spending time with his dog. He has been a student of NextStage since December 2015.

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