Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Are you a Risk-Taker?

When I was in college, a group of friends and I were out trekking through the woods on a hot summer day, near Lake Hartwell, SC. As we made our way along the bank, someone in our group said, "What's that?" We all looked up to see a rope-swing dangling from a branch that reached out over the lake.

There was no question as to what to do next. We scurried over to make our accent up this tree to see who would be first to fly through the air with Tarzan-like grace and into the cool, refreshing waters of Lake Hartwell. Somehow in this race of champions, I made it to the tree first and ascended to the launch site. The last guy there had honor of retrieving the dangling rope.

As the end of the rope was passed up the tree, I began to pick the best spot for  my descent. I took the rope, gave it a tug and....

Wait, I took the rope, gave it a tug and...and....and...

That's right, I stood there. I was frozen on my perch, paralyzed by, you guessed it, FEAR. All I could see was clip after clip on America's Funny Video where some brave-hearted soul attempted what I was about to do and it had ended very badly. At least none of my friends were sporting a video camera.

How many times have you found yourself "frozen on a perch" due to fear of the unknown? Here I was about to enjoy the laws of physics as I would launch my self into air, defying gravity for just a few seconds only to land in a cool, refreshing lake on a hot summer day. Instead, I was standing in a tree, rocking back and forth, listening to the "encouragement" of my peers. All because I wasn't willing to take a risk.

I read recently where a research firm had conducted a survey of a large group of people that matched just one criteria: they had to be ninety-five years or older. They asked this group just one question. The question was, "If you could live your life over, what would you do differently?" The number one answer was, "I would take more risk."

I believe it is Seth Godin who makes the point that there is a big difference between an "Idea" and an "I did." I would contend that the difference is risk. We all have ideas, but only the ones who take the risk to implement the ideas are the ones we talk about. People don't talk about the ideas that others have, they talk about what they did with the ideas. Even if it failed, there's something to talk about AND something to learn. (Failure is the opportunity to try something again, more intelligently.)

In recent days I've landed on the principle that to grow my faith in the Lord, I need to exercise more faith. You may have heard the analogy that our faith is like a muscle. The way you grow a muscle is by using it a lot (weight-lifting) and the same is true with our faith. We need to use it in order for it to get stronger. To use our faith means we have to take some risk. We have to try something and leave the results to God.

What risk do you need to take? Where do you need to exercise your faith? Regardless, don't get caught standing in a tree thinking about all the ways you can fail.

Oh, that reminds me...

I eventually, mustard up my courage and launched myself out of the tree onto the rope. While the trip to the lake may have been graceful, the landing was a flop...a belly flop that stung all over my body. But the coolness of the water and the satisfaction that I had defied my fears made me forget how bad it hurt. From that point on, I never hesitated on all of my other trips out of the tree. (That's a whole different blog waiting to happen.)

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