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Tiny Wisdom: On Risks and Rewards

“Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.” -H. Jackson Browne

It’s safe. Familiar. Comfortable. Effortless. It doesn’t make waves. It’s what other people think you should do. You’re less likely to fail. Less likely to feel vulnerable. Less likely to question if it was worth the risk.

Whether you realize it now or not, it is. We tend to regret the things we didn’t do more than the things we did.

On my first date with my boyfriend, I told him over dinner that I’d always wanted to go skydiving, even though I was afraid of heights. And I meant it–someday. As in someday far away, in a time when it suddenly seemed less terrifying. Someday came far quicker than I’d planned.

He told me that if I wanted to see him again, I’d have to jump out of a plane. So he took me skydiving on our second date. For days before, I considered backing out, especially after I tweeted about it and someone linked me to skydiving fatalities. Although I knew it would likely be safe, I was afraid of the inherent risk.

What pushed me through was the realization that I said I wanted to do it because I did. So I took it one moment at a time. I focused first on just getting in the car–that was all I had to do. Then next on going into the building. Then next on boarding the plane. Then next on jumping out.

What I didn’t plan was the last step–feeling more alive than I ever had before.

I took the risk one simple action step at a time, and though it didn’t completely take away the fear, it certainly pushed me through it. It was absolutely worth it. Nothing is more satisfying than actually doing what you’ve always said you wanted to do.

Get unsafe. Less familiar. Uncomfortable. Difficult. Make waves. Define expectations. Risk failing. Feel vulnerable. Be bold and courageous. No matter where it takes you, leaving your comfort zone–learning, growing, feeling alive–is always worth the risk.

Photo by magical-world

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • This is probably my favorite quote ever.

  • This is probably my favorite quote ever.

  • Reminds me of another excellent quote.

    “A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.” – John A. Shedd

  • Ria

    i’ve been reading this blog for 

  • Ria

    oops comment fail! haha 🙂 as i was saying, i’ve been reading this blog for quite some time now and in fact, the april 13 post on gratitude inspired a whole new blog for me which I call my Thought Bubble Project (www.thoughtbubbleproject.com) and I just want to say I love how the daily posts always give me something to think about…and more so, how, though it may be so random, it often is exactly how i feel or what i write about in my own blog too.

    tonight when i got home from my yoga class (one filled with lots of surprises and challenges, i must say) it dawned on me that trying to get into all these asanas entails finding a good
    balance between just taking the plunge and taking it slowly…. without
    the courage to try and the humility to take a step back, you’ll never
    really get there.and so i told myself to take the risk more often 🙂 then just before i head off to bed (its midnight here in manila) i checked my daily dose of the tiny buddha and what do you know….its all about taking risks 🙂 thank you for this site, lori and for the light you share to all those who read it 🙂

  • likeeeeeee……………

  • Nick Bryant

    Sometimes you just have to ‘step backwards over the edge’ and leave the rest to karma.

  • Anonymous

    Well said! The most memorable things I’ve done in my life have required risk. This isn’t a dress rehearsal, tomorrow is uncertain (and may never come) and you only have one chance. The worst thing that can happen is that you will die, which is going to happen anyway, so you might as well go for it! 

  • I have a fear of heights, but I’ve swung on a flying trapeze.  Exhilarating…and now I don’t ever have to do it again!

  • What stands out for me here is your boyfriend.  He heard you and took action towards pushing you to meet your dreams.  I love that.  It is so important for each of us to encourage one another towards pursuing our interests, goals and dreams. 
    One of my favorite quotes is just along the lines of this post – “And the day came when the wish to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”  Anais Nin 

  • That’s great Ria! Congratulations on your new blog. I’m so excited for you. =) I know exactly the feeling you’re describing with yoga. It’s such a beautiful practice for challenging some of our more limiting tendencies.

    Thank you for the kind words about the site! You are most welcome–and thank YOU for being a part of this community. =)

  • Hi Harriet,

    I think I feel in love with him right away, partially for that reason. Over the past two years, he has been not only a tremendous support and partner in crime, but an advocate for my dreams. He doesn’t push me in the wrong way ever, but he always encourages me and helps me stretch beyond my comfort zone. If he wasn’t so private, I’d be writing about him a lot more often! I’m actually trying to get him to write a post for the site about adventure because he’s had so many rich experiences, and I believe he’s gained tremendous insight from them all.

    I love that Anais Nin quote. It’s one of my favorites!

    Lori

  • I did that one, as well, and I stood there for a good 10 minutes before I would swing. It just felt so terrifying! I know I would absolutely never sky dive again, but I am so glad that I did it! I felt so proud of myself afterward. Whenever something feels risky, I remember that I’ve already risked death by plummeting from a tiny plane. The stakes generally aren’t nearly as high with other risks, so I may as well take the plunge!

  • Well said from you, as well! =)

  • Pingback: Mixed emotions | Happinews()

  • LOL, Lori, tell him if he wants to see you again he’ll have to write that post for the site.

    I like the thoughts and advice in your article. I completely understand what the skydiving did for you. How brave you are!

    I do still like the challenge of going beyond my comfort zone. You’re right, it
    does make me feel alive and like I’ve learned something more about
    myself. But there’s something else about this, for me. I have come to a place where I can finally give myself permission to not “have to” do certain things, even if others expect me to or want me to or think I “should”. It’s a kind of self-acceptance to acknowledge that there are some things just way too far beyond my comfort zone. Like jumping out of a plane. In your place, I’d have opted to not see the guy again. I’d have resented that he felt it was OK to unilaterally impose a rule like that so soon after our meeting.

    Part of my personal growth has been the great relief that came with giving myself permission to make my own choices about where my comfort zone begins and ends. Physical risk has become an acceptable limit for me as I’ve grown older. Some things aren’t about familiarity, discomfort, difficulty, or the risk of failing. As long as I’m regularly finding things that help me learn, grow, and feel alive, then for me, physical risk doesn’t have to be a part of the risk-and-rewards equation.

  • I definitely see your point here. Ultimately, what made me go through with it was not the threat that I wouldn’t see him again otherwise. (In fact, he told me several times that I didn’t actually have to do it, and that we could have a different second date if I wanted to.) What made me do it was that I really wanted to, but I was scared of the risk–even though I knew that it was statistically unlikely I would get hurt.

    He chose the wording he chose because he knew I would find it attractive and charming–and I did. I loved that he was challenging me, even if in the end, he would respect whatever choice I made. The reward, for me, was not our relationship, though it’s something I am grateful for. I loved knowing that I did it. I loved that I pushed through the fear. I loved the experience of flying through the air. And I loved how I felt when I landed. I also love that now, whenever there is a risk I am scared to take, I remember, “I jumped out of a plane and survived! How bad could it really be go give this a try?”

    Incidentally, I am also less willing to take physical risks as I get older. I would never go skydiving again. I also had a mini panic attack when he took my skiing, and he completely accepted it when I said I won’t be doing that again. (Fast and out-of-control feeling is just not my thing!) And lastly, I have told him that I will likely never SCUBA dive or dive for abalone, two things he loves to do. He is just more of a dare devil than I am. What works well for us is that I get to set the boundaries, but he certainly keeps me on my toes when it comes to my honest desire to push them.

  • Neetu

    Dear Lori, you’re words are an inspiration to me everyday. Love, Neetu

  • Neetu

    Dear Lori, You’re words are an inspiration to me each day. Love, Neetu

  • Thanks for taking the time to write, Neetu. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the site. =)