If calculated risks keep us growing, why do we stop? There are two contrasting ideas that many of us have about creativity. It’s that we want to stand out and share our work while at the same time we want to fit in. When we stand out, it means we’re not fitting in. We can’t have both. Human nature likes us to fit in, so it becomes very risky behavior to stand out even in a creative world.
If we never make anything, if we make only what’s comfortable or we create something and then never share it, we’re hiding. We all do it. Creatives everywhere are nodding their heads. There is a sense of knowing this truth and a knowing that we need to put ourselves out there. We’re looking for career growth and creative growth to expand our lives and live better. Then again, it feels too risky. It’s not our calling to hide and leave our creative calling dormant. We’re meant to wake it up and nurture it.
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It’s Not That Comfortable at the Top
I once thought I reached a creative peak. I was at a point in my life where I felt comfortable. Even though I was capable of deeper growth, it became easier to play safe more often than to take risks. It took an avalanche for me to wake up. I was able to achieve a higher level of creativity, deeper personal awareness, and authenticity. It took a calculated risk, and the willingness to be uncomfortable. First, though there was that avalanche.
I use the word avalanche with purpose. This one was both figurative and extremely literal and life threatening. I share a lot about it in my book Creative Calling. So, I was trapped in an avalanche in Alaska. This is the avalanche that woke me up to more creativity, happiness and fulfillment. At the time, I thought I was everything I wanted to be. I realized after staring death in the face and surviving that I wasn’t living the dream I thought I wanted.
I was living part of the dream. I realized I was also borrowing bits and pieces from others, and at the time I was satisfied staying comfortable, not necessarily looking at that closer. It may seem odd that this is my experience, but I’m not immune to becoming stagnant. I believe the value is in sharing my experience with others.
Reaching Our Goals Doesn’t Mean There Is Nowhere to Grow
I’ve spoken with many people who get stuck at some point in their professional and personal life. They seek career advice and it really comes down to seeking advice for living to their fullest. They’re not sure what or why but they have a feeling they’re not done yet. When we reach a career arc or creative peak, it means we’re stuck and sometimes we don’t realize it.
I’m not special in this story. I don’t think anyone is immune to reaching a peak and getting stuck at some point in life. It happened to me when I reached a point, landed on the plateau and stayed. Comfortable and safe.
To take creative risks is to take creative risks not once, but over and over. Repeatedly exposing ourselves. What it takes is getting out of our heads and listening to our guts, tuning into our bodies. Listen to the heartbeat. It elevates as if that instagram post, or new blog is a saber tooth tiger, protecting us from inevitable danger. Newsflash, it’s not a saber tooth tiger, our human nature wants us to remain in the safe zone. We will not be eaten when we hit publish.
Creative people reveal themselves. We’re vulnerable to others, to the outside world. Art is truth, and truth well it cuts both ways. We talk about this alot in the creative community, creativity is a core human function. It’s a fundamental requirement of our health, well-being and happiness.
Calculated Risks are the Pathways To Fulfillment
Mistakes are a sign that we’re on the right track, pushing ourselves. Each time we do, our limits expand. By tackling meaningful challenges we grow. This could be at school, home, work, anywhere. Others teach us that mistakes are bad and people who are good at something don’t make mistakes. This is backwards.
The truth is that the high performers in any field are the ones who routinely take risks. Successful people are willing to face rejection, risk money and reputation by standing out. They do things differently. They take calculated risks. Each time they take a risk they train themselves to expand. We’re used to telling ourselves to risk it later, one day when we have more money, time or when we’re healthy. This trains our brain to retract, play safe and do not grow.
I call bullshit, because that magical one day never comes. If this makes us feel uncomfortable, it should. When we no longer feel comforted by the excuses we make to take our risks later, we’ll change. It will be unsafe to stay in the comfort of those excuses, and our brains will be ready to expand.
Higher Success is Higher Stakes
The more successful we become, the riskier those risks feel. It’s hard to stomach them. We keep raising the bar, and when we’ve reached the top it feels like there is nowhere to go so we don’t risk a thing and get rather cozy. Yes, the plateau is cozy. For a while.
Raise the bar and the stakes to keep growing. We’re taking calculated and meaningful risks knowing it’s going to get very uncomfortable. Necessary creative risks become even more scary when we’ve reached our goals. Like me, since I thought I had everything I wanted, why aim for more? Keep doing the same, it works, it’s safe… our brains like that.
It felt like an inner avalanche when I woke up to this in my own life. Sure, it took an actual life-threatening avalanche to show me that if I continued playing it safe in every decision I made that I would feel forever stalled, and that inner calling would dim. I woke up to the fact that calculated risks feed us in ways our creative souls need, and I was hungry.
Be willing to regularly risk what you’ve got or you’ll lose what you have. We choose time and time again what price we’re willing to pay to live our best life. What will we sacrifice to achieve what we want most? We do this and we’ve got to do it again. It’s a lifelong endeavor. We’re creatives. It’s in our nature to grow and develop.
Continuously we’re presented with two choices. Tune out this truth that we must be willing to take calculated risks to develop and grow or we stop waiting for the right time and we wake up to our need to live creative, happy, fulfilled and successful lives by embracing calculated risks that create meaningful change for us.
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