Is risk-taking really necessary … in life or love? Or is it simply that the way some of us choose to live our lives seems risky to some and not to others?
While thumbing through a recent edition of The Washington Post, I came upon an article about a speech that Friends actress, Lisa Kudrow, gave to the 2012 graduating class of Foxcroft School. The title of the article was “Lisa Kudrow to Foxcroft grads: Don’t take risks.”
Wow, I thought to myself. This was a pretty courageous statement to make, considering we live in a society that usually encourages taking chances as a way to get ahead and often condemns those who are more risk-averse as weak or fearful.
Kudrow went on to suggest that risk-taking and decision-making depends on “who you are and what you can handle.” Put like that, it makes perfect sense to me.
I must admit. I take what some might consider to be risks. I have been sky diving and scuba diving. I have competed in several sports at an amateur level and taken my fair share of chances when it comes to relationships. At some level, all of these ventures could be considered risky. But I felt pretty safe jumping out of that airplane. I believed the harnesses, parachute and instructor to whom I was attached would ensure my safety while I enjoyed the rush. Most of us probably feel the same way when we get on roller coasters. Do we really feel like we are taking a risk then either?
Years ago, I was in a relationship with a woman who was not much of a risk-taker, or at least that’s what I told myself at the time. But now I have to re-assess whether this is true. A more accurate statement is probably that our concepts of safety were very different. I felt safe making certain investments, while she did not. I didn’t mind chancing the possibility of losing money, but she did. To me, these decisions were simply calculated decisions. To her, they were risks that should be avoided. Is one opinion better than the other? After considering Kudrow’s excellent point, I don’t think so. Our opinions were simply different, because we are different people.
I could have suggested that she lighten up and learn to be more adventuresome, but should we really encourage other people to take chances that make them uncomfortable? And how can I, with integrity, tell someone else to take a risk, when I am not really sure whether I am truly a risk-taker or simply someone who is more OK than others with the odds of something taking an unexpected turn?
So, to Lisa Kudrow, I say, “Nice job.” She has taken a step to empower those of us who may judge our life and decisions based on other people telling us to take risks. She has instead encouraged us to act when we feel safe doing so … as we may see it. And that’s pretty Powerful.
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