Q: Does success come without risk?
Ha! That answer doesn’t mess about, does it? Short, and to the point.
In fact, it couldn’t be any shorter, and although I obviously think it’s the right answer, I also think it’s worthwhile expanding on the reasons why.
To look further, I think we need to take two angles to come at it –
Firstly – what do we mean by ‘success’, and
Secondly – to address the argument some people might make, that they can come up with lots of cases where some people certainly do have success without risk.
So, how do we define ‘success’?
Is it a certain level of career progression?
Is it fame and/or fortune?
How about a marriage and family?
Maybe a massive house or a flash car?
Of course it varies from person to person, and while it may seem easy to equate success to money, there are many other ways to describe it.
Have you heard of Earl Nightingale? He was the author of The Strangest Secret amongst many other books. His insights into success have transformed the lives of many people so much so that he’s been called ‘The Dean of Personal Development.’ One his most famous quotes is;
“success is the progressive realisation of a worthy idea.”
But you might say that if I’m leaving the definition of success down to the individual, it’s impossible for me to assess all the possible risks that might be involved.
Now, while that’s strictly speaking true, I also think it’s possible to say in the context of the original question, that the ‘risk’ can be narrowed down to the risk of it not working.
Following on from that, the consequences of failure, which generally involve loss of some sort – maybe loss of money, or maybe loss of other opportunities resulting from your commitment to the original goal.
In my experience, to get to a goal will always involve action, and since the results of action can’t always be guaranteed, there will be risk of failure.
The harder the goal, the more competition or the tighter the space at the top of the field, then the risk of failure only increases!
At the time of writing this post we’re into the first week of the Olympic Games. I’m a huge road cycling fanatic and so far the Olympics has been a brutal event for some of the top racers. Not many competitors will ever get an Olympic gold medal.
So, if you look at industries like sport, or acting or music for example, for every one person who achieves ‘success’ there will be hundreds and hundreds of ‘failures.’
Or are they..?
If we look back at Earl Nightingale’s definition of success, anyone pursuing a career in those tight fields is following their passions, chasing their dreams, and acting in a way in line with what makes them feel alive.
In addition to my online success coaching, I’m also a British Cycling Coach and I’ve known many aspiring cyclists who’ve never made it onto our news programs. But I would definitely ascribe Nightingale’s definition of success to most if not all of them. In fact I’ve known hundreds of clients whose lives have been enriched by following their life-long passions, no matter what the eventual results were on paper.
In that case they could be described as a success whatever the result, because they have taken on the risks, and one thing’s for sure – they won’t be the ones looking back and wondering ‘what if?’
I did mention earlier that it’s worth looking at the argument that some people do achieve success without risk – mostly because they are following the same path as their parents, so all the relevant doors are already wide open for them, and they can simply saunter through.
I have a couple of problems with that view! Yes, of course, if you’re born to a wealthy family like a certain Mr Trump perhaps, or a famous parent, then doors will indeed be open for you, but that brings its’ own pressures, and sometimes the risks for those offspring can actually be greater because they have had a bar set so high by others, a process in which they played no part.
The other problem I have with that view of ‘easy success for the lucky ones’ is that in those cases, they still have to take action to achieve ‘success’, and that action will still bring consequences that can bring success OR failure.
Action still required
So, is the route to success easier for some, with less risk? Possibly, but that’s applicable to a minority, if at all.
No, I think it’s better to focus on the majority, which most likely includes my humble self, and most likely includes you too!
Going after success will carry risk, I feel clear about that, and while it’s also clear that it’s up to the individual to decide whether the risk/reward ratio is worth it, my view is that taking the risk will almost always lead to a more fulfilled life, an enrichment of the soul, while not taking the risk leads to the opposite – a life unfulfilled, a soul that will be left wondering what might have been.
So, examine the risks by all means, then prepare for them as best you can, start taking action and focus on the success rather than the risk.
It can not only change your life, it can ‘transform’ it!
I hope you found some value in this post. If so please share the love.
Your Black Belt Success Coach
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