Recently I took a risk tolerance quiz. It was a fun refresher for some financial investment work I was doing. I didn’t know this quiz, so I wanted to see how my taste for risk ranked these days. Let it be known that I am in no way what anyone would call a daredevil.
I don’t think any of my friends or family would declare me at all a risk taker. I’ve never spent more than $2 gambling in my many wonderful trips to Las Vegas. I’ve never jumped out of a plane with a parachute on my back. Heck, I can’t even go near an amusement park without feeling nauseous at the site of roller coasters: ugh. Of course, one person’s craziest night out is another guy’s average Monday night at the local pub, so we have some wiggle room for subjectivity.
It turns out that I have a pretty high risk tolerance, and not just financially. This is what I like to call ‘quiet courage’. So what does this equate to my real daily life? The simple answer is: I’m able to go after my dreams, and not worry too much about the downsides where great reward is possible.
The key here is not worrying too much. Of course, like any rational, questionably sane adult, I question things; call that worry if you must. But every great investor knows that to capture your wins (and we all want wins, even if you call it ‘to just be happy’), you must minimize your risk. Risk will always be there, as will all the emotions that come along with it.
Perhaps that’s where I differentiate myself from people who either don’t take action, or are deeply scared of action to the point of moving like molasses. From personal experience and (even more so) from the experience of others, I know that risk is always there. Let me repeat that: risk is always there. We just learn how to minimize it, to manage it, to handle it, to comfortably live with it. This is a matter of mastering my emotions, so that my honest choices can take come forward. In my mind, that’s the edge, and it’s what I work with most deeply with all of my clients. They then get the greatest rewards in terms of jobs and financial income.
For many of us, security is our #1 driving force. Yes, everyone has a need to feel secure. But when it’s your primary need, and you’re not conscious about it yet, this influences all of your decisions in ways that you cannot even imagine. Once you become aware of it, you can then balance out your need for security with those other needs that your soul has: fulfillment, growth, contribution, love & connection.
When you are stuck in security, instead of just going on that day trip to wine country, or donating your time to a new charitable organization you’ve always thought about giving to, you’ll start to seek the ways that this new experience will threaten your security. The question your habituated, un-mastered mind puts to you is: ‘How is this going to disrupt my days/habits/comfort?’ And before you know it, you’ve found all the answers, and talked yourself out of doing something that likely could have given you far more satisfaction, joy and connection than just maintaining your security status quo.
How do we get stuck in security in first place? As with most things, without changing the world and reconditioning all of society, the answer to this is likely beside the point. You might like to think that it’s your social demographic or generation or economic background. But those are just easy excuses. People from all walks of life respond to the fire in their bellies daily, and overcome – if that’s the right word – the conditions that might have been imposed upon them to move beyond their need for security.
I don’t believe you ever need to overcome anything. Wherever you started in life is the place in which you get to contribute. You’ve become the absolute best tool for the growth and progress of that place, because it’s yours and it knows and loves you, even if it forgets that some times. I come from good, ethical people, who are exceptionally imperfect, like all of us. I’ve had challenging conversations that shaped my original community’s opinions, beliefs and – best of all – feelings, through the years. And don’t kid yourself, they’ve shaped mine for the better too.
Which only leaves the fire in everyone’s bellies! That’s all any of us have. What are we passionate about? What are our dreams? What gives us our truest fulfillment? Most often, we’ve just lost track of that. We’ve gotten lulled to sleep by society’s norms – often fatally, like a lobster put into the cosy warm water in the lobster pot. Before you know it, your life was lived ‘normally’ and you get to the end wondering, ‘Is this all there was?’
When the meaning of our lives comes solely from security, problems come calling. While we all deserve joy with family and friends, imagine how much more you might have created and contributed if you responded to that fire in your belly! And I know that everyone has it, even if they pretend that they’re just ‘a simple person, living my life,’ as I hear people say until they start to ask some great questions that release some amazing, impeccable answers!
Simple people do extraordinary things every day, risky things. But they are not necessarily extraordinary or risky to that person, just to you and me if we haven’t done them yet. We can do extraordinary things every day too. And this is all it takes: a little conditioning, a little habitual encouragement to try new things, things that you really want to do. Things that you’ve always wanted to do. Things that give you huge joy, huge connection, and fun.
Little by little, you realize: ‘hmm, maybe my security is not in jeopardy! Maybe what I thought was unsafe is really just untested. Maybe all those stories my grandmother told me about going out into the world were just her fear, not mine’ (don’t even get me started on the job my family’s old-world Italian grandparents had on later generations!).
Here’s the truth: we are never really without security. Not at heart, not deep deep down, where it matters most. We are all resourceful, we just forget about this. We’ve mastered tying our shoelaces and driving cars and paying bills, things that would be challenging to every 2-year-old. But we’ve gotten experience, we came through. Most of us have come through some truly difficult, challenging, heart-wrenching experiences, and still we live and wake up and smile and find joy with ourselves and others.
So when you find yourself getting stuck in your old idea security – and it happens at the most inconvenient of times! – just stop, take a deep breath, and remind yourself: ‘Hey, I give myself credit for learning and enjoying things I never thought I could do before! I’m grateful for all the connections that I get to create every day.’
Take a moment now to remind yourself, and write down your It Factor. Ask yourself: What have I always wanted most? What makes me smile more than anything else? What makes me laugh and feel warm and connected to other people? What gives me a sense of giving to other people so that I feel so satisfied and generous? Why did I end up on this earth to give? Dig deeper, because it’s all there for you to take! Go out, have some fun, and claim your own It Factor today.
Josh Ubaldi is a business coach, entrepreneur & quiet risk-taker living in Los Angeles, CA. Please share with him your experiences of security and fulfillment here.