The first thing that people risk if they take on a risky proposition is their feelings and their egos. That in of itself is not a bad thing, however most people don’t realize that a large part of their risk is the risk of emotional hurt. That’s why you won’t ask that girl or guy out or get up on stage and perform. Because you might be made to look like a fool. Such extreme embarressment is tough to deal with, however, try to remember the last time you were really, really embarressed. Was it really that bad?
I recall the last time, I got very few laughs in a stand up competition. I bombed in front of a room full of people and a few cameras. But I learned that embarressment can’t kill you. And that you surive and become a stronger person.
The risk of falling, getting hurt and bruising my ego was the reason why I was never able to get really good quickly as a trials rider. If I went all out for something, I could fall and break my hand or arm or something and wouldn’t be able to ride again for a long time. But if I went all out for it, I may make it or learn something. I didn’t like the tradeoff when I was riding, but now I’m willing to take greater risks in my riding.
The most effective strategy to reducing this sort of ego/emo risk is to not take it personally if it happens to you. Upon doing so terribly, I could have simply hid from the world and felt like an idiot. Instead I realized that my delivery, time and material need to be punched up. That’s a lot more productive than self-pity. Hell, I bet anyone there that night doesn’t even remember me, so they don’t care. Except for my friends, they had a helluva time laughin at me. I’m glad I made at least two people laugh…a lot.
Without taking risks, you will have little to no reward. Things don’t tend to fall on your lap very often. Working towards and taking the risks necessary to get what you want lead to a happier life and one that, at least, doesn’t end up in regret. So, go ahead, do that crazy thing. Don’t listen to anyone, believe you can do it. And if you fail, then realize that you just need to get better at it and don’t take it personally. Your inability to excel at something is no indication of your other abilities or of you.
In fact, after the stand up competition, I found a new source of self-confidence
and I’ve been taking greater and greater risks (none too foolish,
though) and getting greater and greater rewards.
I decided that if I’m not doing something that the outcome of is uncertain and I feel a little nervous about it, then I’m not really taking enough risks.
Speaking of which, I am getting a hankerin to get back up on stage with new material. If I blow it again, I’ll simply come back with newer and more material and more confidence. But if I succeed, I’ll gain lots of confidence, feel great about myself and perhaps take a step towards some sort of professional comic status. Getting paid to make people laugh sounds awesome and a great part-time job.
The second part of taking risks is having a reason to take those risks. A dream, a vision or a goal are great. The immediate upside is sometimes not enough. I would feel great if I made everyone laugh, but my larger plan is to make a living out of entertaining people whether through stand up, writing, directing, acting or whatever.
So, go ahead and take that risk. Think about moving into a new career, apply for a buncha jobs you don’t think you’re qualified for (sometimes just showing enthusiasm is enough to land a job). I didn’t think I was good enough to do a job, but I was enthusiastic and I landed an interview and I’m still in the interview process. Maybe I’ll get the job, or maybe I won’t. The thing is, the chances of me getting the job would ne zero if I hadn’t tried for it, now they’re better than fifty-fifty.
So, go ahead and take that risk. Figure out the upside and the downside. Figure out how to deal with the downside (don’t take it personally) and figure out how bad it would actually be to fail. Then think about the upside and let that guide you during the risk. The law of averages would state that if you take enough risks, you’re likely to come up at least once. So, go ahead and think of that new job, or asking that person out or of getting up on stage and singing or dancing or whatever.