The other day I overheard a woman make the statement, “I risked it all”. It caught my attention and my imagination. What did this person, shopping in the same grocery store as me, looking at the same containers of yogurt, do to risk it all? Had she walked away from a life of leisure to move to Timbuktu to find herself? Had she put all her life savings into her big idea? Did she put her physical safety on the line to complete a grueling challenge? She walked away having selected her yogurt, continuing her phone conversation and I never got the answer.
I do know that I had an immediate gut reaction that nothing I had ever done made me worthy to stake that same claim. I had visions of overwhelming acts of courage, big, huge acts that just are not on my experience wheel. But luckily, as I checked out the soup aisle I cut myself some slack. Perhaps my expectation of what constitutes risk is a bit high and my assessment of my own risk taking is a bit too low. It seems to me that risk is a very personal thing, what seems no big deal to one person can seem incredibly risky to another. For me, dance a competition feels like a huge risk, others are in their sweet spot on the dance floor. Put me in front of 200 people to speak and it’s no problem; yet for others it is the riskiest thing they can imagine doing. Our unique experiences, fears, insecurities and confidences define our personal definition of risk. And when I think about choices I have made, challenges I have taken on, I can say I have risked it all once or twice. Regardless of our definition, I think it’s important to give ourselves credit for the risks we take. To step outside our comfort zone and open ourselves up to loss, regardless how small, deserves credit. So, if you overhear me saying, “I risked it all”, chances are it has something to do with me and the cha-cha.