Fall 2003 The Two Faces of Risk
Newsletter #9
From Diana's Desk

About Diana

Look at your Life

      I sat that morning in the large hotel conference center with several hundred others at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota, after investing 24 hours of travel and a goodly sum of money to be there. This was the First International Summit for Complexity Science and Health Care. Drowsily listening with only three hours sleep, I heard one of the conference host/moderators ask for volunteers to learn about and then facilitate discussion groups called Conversation Cafes. Through my haze, I realized that this was something I wanted to do and could do, but after all, I was tired and needn't put myself out .As I was letting go of the opportunity, another part of me declared "wait a minute! You went to school, read and teach about this, consider yourself a leader and teacher, not to mention all the effort you put in to get here and you just sit there?" And my hand shot up! At that moment I had a distinct image of stepping into a circle, as if I were stepping into that vision I held of myself, stepping into my own congruence.
      As you can imagine, the risk was very well rewarded. I sat at lunch with the hosts and learned from the very authors whose work inspired me to attend. That action transformed what would have been a pleasant but passive event into a wonderfully rich experience.
      I believe that risk is about taking action, behaving or speaking by conscious choice because you believe it is best for you and others and is congruent with your vision, values and principles. What keeps us from taking risks? It can stem from two sources, fear and anxiety, or inertia (or to be blunt, sometimes laziness) (L). My hesitation at the conference probably was due more to fear and anxiety (who was I to think I could participate with all those important people?), but there was certainly some inertia (L) too.

      Not risking because of fear and anxiety is related to trust, trust in yourself and in the goodness of others. It is trust that when you act in accordance with your vision values and principles, (congruently) that you will be OK, safe, and might even receive rewards beyond your expectations. These words by the 13th century poet Rumi remind me of trust and risk.

Birds make great sky-circles of their freedom.
How do they learn it?
They fall, and falling, they are given wings.

      We need to trust that when we step into a situation our own congruence will be the wind that supports us. One of our greatest fears is of failure. Robert Schuller asks,
" What would you attempt to do if you knew that you could not fail?"

      The other face of risk is that of overcoming the inertia (L) to change an aspect of yourself. It is a risk because you are leaving your comfort zone to endure some level of discomfort or hardship in order to improve a condition such as your health or a living situation. You may only have a faint glimpse of the possible reward for your effort. While trust is the key to overcoming fear, discipline is the key to overcoming inertia. The more firmly formed your vision of the end result is, the easier discipline becomes.

      There is one important consideration here. If inertia is a persistent pattern, a person may be clinically depressed. No amount of discipline will work when you are physically and psychologically unable to take action. Professional help is essential under these conditions.

      Trust and discipline can reinforce each other. Trust that you are living your best self plus disciplined effort will help you grow into more of whom you want to be. And discipline does take some trust to leap into action. Each act of discipline brings you further along your journey. David Lloyd George encourages discipline and risk with what I see as his version of "just do it."

Don't be afraid to take a big step, if one is indicated.
You can't cross a chasm in two small steps.

When you find yourself hesitating to take a risk, sort out for yourself whether it is related to fear and anxiety or just to not wanting to move out of your comfort zone. If it is fear, trust is easier when you are consciously aware of your own vision values and principles. Check in with yourself to be clear. However, if you discover that a great deal of your hesitancy is really about wanting to stay comfortable, hold out before you your vision of the new change, and the reward waiting for you. Risk takes trust and discipline in order for you to be the leader of your own congruent life.

Think that you're gliding out from the face of a cliff
Like an eagle. Think you're walking
Like a tiger walks by himself in the forest.
You're most handsome when you're after food.

Spend less time with nightingales and peacocks.
One is just a voice, the other just a color.


I wish you opportunities to risk and
wonderful rewards for doing so,




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