One of the foundations of success, is a willingness to go out on a limb. That’s because all meaningful progress is preceded by the decision to take a calculated risk; to go out on a limb and do something.
Risk, security and progress
Starting a family, starting a business, relocating – all of these life changing decisions require us to go out on a limb. One of the oddities of life, is that even though the decisions that lead to the most progress in our lives are preceded by risk, we tend to opt for certainty instead. The pull of the comfort zone is clearly too strong for most to resist.
The challenge with opting for the mediocre decisions, is that mediocre decisions lead to mediocre results.
In our strive for certainty and security, it’s easy to justify playing it safe. After all…
- If we don’t state our opinions, our opinions can’t be criticised.
- If we don’t start a business, the business can’t fail.
- If we don’t ask that amazing person for a dance, they can’t say no.
Mark Twain and going out on a limb
I discovered a wonderful quote from Mark Twain, which describes the importance of going out on a limb far more eloquently than I can.
Here’s what he said: “Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is!”
One of the great ironies in business, is that playing it safe is the riskiest thing we can do. This means a risk averse business owner places an incredibly low ceiling on his or her potential. They reach a plateau with their business no matter how hard they work, because every genuinely valuable opportunity has an element of risk attached. Progress means change. And change means risk.
Here’s an interesting fact:
In over 6000 years of recorded human history, no one has ever achieved anything outstanding by playing it safe. No one. The message is clear. We need to either accept the necessity for calculated risks, or settle for way, way less than we deserve.
So why not go out on a limb, as Mark Twain suggests? At least occasionally. And put yourself within reach of the fruit.