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When my wife and I decided to come to the U.S. with only two suitcases and loaned money for plane tickets, we knew we had given up the comfort of certainty and embarked on a journey into the unknown. We took the risky gambit out of a desire for a better life and greater opportunity for our children.
Risk is part of the human condition. While some people are willing to take a great deal of risks, others take a more cautious approach to life. Risk-taking for the sake of the thrill it offers can be dangerous, especially when it may result in loss of limbs or even life. However, a life lived without taking risks is unimaginably drab if there is such a thing. There is always the element of chaos or unpredictable outcome in whatever course we take in life. We can minimize, but we can never eliminate risks. Risks come prominently into play when we are faced with difficult choices. It can be unnerving when both choices have unpleasant consequences, forcing us to minimize risks by choosing the lesser of the two evils.
A healthy amount of risk-taking is necessary for success in any endeavor. Successful individuals are not averse to taking risks, whether in business or personal affairs. In life, we often take “calculated risks” when making choices by weighing anticipated costs of failure versus gains of a positive outcome. However, most earth-shattering achievements do not come about because of calculated risks. They often present themselves as the only choice, though they carry great risks.
We are often confronted with choices that carry a costly emotional, mental, physical, or material price and the promise of great rewards if we take action. These moments can define us by taking the high road of uncertainty or retreating to the cocoon of comfort and safety.
The following poem struck a chord close to home:
RISK* To laugh is to risk appearing like a fool, To weep is to risk appearing sentimental, To reach out to another is to risk involvement, To expose feelings is to risk rejection, To place your dreams before the crowd is to risk ridicule, To love is to risk not being loved in return, To go forward in the face of overwhelming odds is to risk failure. But risks must be taken because the greatest Hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing does nothing Has nothing, is nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow, or love. Chained by his certitude, he is a slave. He has forfeited his freedom. Only a person who takes risks is free. Anonymous
- Olesen, J., Fallon, J., & Mark, L. (1993). Groups: A manual for chemical dependency and psychiatric treatment. Santa Fe, NM: C.L. Productions
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.