Some people think I’m a wild girl and a major risk taker. I always giggle when I hear that because I don’t feel like I’m a risk taker. I only take action if I feel comfortable with it. Other people may perceive that what I’m doing is a risk, but I’ve spent time preparing myself for many of the actions. Some actions I leap into because they’re compelling and sound fun.
Let’s take skydiving as an example. Eva Gregory, my BFF, had done a tandem skydive (you’re strapped to an instructor, who does all the flying, and a large parachute) and showed me her video of the event. It looked fun, but I was so scared. I told her I’d never do it. I said if I ever did, I’d have to watch her video a hundred times in a row to get me pumped up and boost my courage.
Skydiving wasn’t compelling to me. Flying like a bird was compelling. I talked a lot about flying. I had always wanted an airplane, but I wanted to float through clouds like I’d always imagined angels did.
Very soon after the skydiving conversation with Eva, my former mate surprised me with a tandem skydive reservation. I literally cried with fear and said I wasn’t going. He said he couldn’t get a refund. (He lied.)
I wound up going but changed my perspective from fear of breaking all my limbs upon hitting the ground at high speeds, to one of floating like an angel.
I ended up loving the experience and did about 300 solo skydives after that. Is it a risk? Sure, I could sustain injuries, hurt someone else, or die. But I do not feel I’m taking an extreme risk or I wouldn’t do it!
I will not jump unless I know my parachute and reserve (backup parachute) are both packed safely. I know the direction and speed of the wind to assist me in choosing my landing pattern. I also make myself familiar with the plane I’m jumping out of and the landing zone. Most importantly, I only jump when I’m inspired and have a clear mind.
I think riding on the back of a motorcycle, as a passenger, is a big risk. Every bone in my body tenses up when I do it. I feel vulnerable on the back. Let me ride my own dirt bike or quad and I’ll go at full speed. It’s all about how I perceive the activity.
I’ve always been fascinated by people who climb mountains. My friend Rich Fettke, author of Extreme Success, is a climber and fellow skydiver. He has climbed El Capitan at Yosemite National Park twice. He’s slept on the side of a mountain hanging from ropes.
I see this as absolutely terrifying! Does Rich get a rush out of climbing? Yes! But he has done his homework and loves the sport. He has two children and a wife that he adores, so he is very conscious of the actions he’s taking.
Rich and I both love to play big. We love to make the most of whatever we’re doing. Playing big is also a perception. Some people consider the things we do as no big deal, as they play even bigger!
We can’t compare ourselves to others when we’re pushing our own thresholds for risk. We have to play big enough to feel ourselves stretch yet not so big that we’ll freak out or resist the process. Playing big can be done in business, relationships, fun, wealth, and more!
Ed Viesturs is considered one of the top climbers in the world. He co-authored his own autobiography, No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World’s 14 Highest Peaks. Ed has successfully climbed the highest mountains in the world with no bottled oxygen!
He’s climbed Everest several times. Ed is someone who plays huge, yet he is so deeply connected to his inner being. He listens to what his heart tells him, and he plays it safe on the mountain.
Ed’s personal strategies for success:
- Training for his climbs in ways that feel good to him
- Climbing at a steady pace so he keeps his stamina (many times, fast climbers pass him on the way up mountains only to turn back before they summit from running out of wind or getting themselves in bad snafus)
- Stopping a climb or turning back because of weather conditions, even if he is only a few hundred feet from the peak of a mountain he’s spent months preparing for!
Because of honoring his values and rules of climbing, he’s succeeded in his goal of climbing the world’s fourteen highest peaks with no oxygen. He’s never had frostbite or major injuries.
He’s led many rescues on the mountain and seen many deaths of climbing friends. Ed’s motto, “Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory,” has him make decisions that are in alignment with his beliefs. Therefore, he experiences success and no regrets.
I’d love for everyone to play as big in their life as they can enjoy. Turn perceived risks into fun by doing your homework beforehand and deciding what the rules of engagement are that you’ll follow.
Make sure you’re taking the action because you want it for you. Never do it for someone else, to get approval, or because the experts told you to do so. If the activity isn’t compelling, don’t do it. Going big should be thrilling, not paralyzing.