Taking Risks in 9 Quotes

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We live most of our lives with the fear to take risks. The Merriam-Webster define it as: “someone or something that may cause something bad or unpleasant to happen.” The spectrum of bad or unpleasant things that could happen can be quite large. Most of the things we fear of doing day by day will not likely cause injuries or death. The risks we aren’t taking are usually harmless. The goal here is to give you inspiration of doing things that your afraid of. Like Bryan Koppelman said: “The only risks of doing something are time and ego“. Here are 9 quotes about taking more risks in your life.

[1] “No man is worth his salt who is not ready at all times to risk his well-being, to risk his body, to risk his life in a great cause.” – Theodore Roosevelt.

The 26th American President was right. Take a look at his life and you will understand. He graduated from Harvard. He became a frontier sheriff from 1884 to 1886. Then, he went back to New York where he worked on the New York City Police Board and assistant secretary of the navy. He was a war hero during the Spanish-American war of 1898.

He became Vice-President under McKinley who was assassinated in 1901. That made Roosevelt President of United States. He was president until 1908. Added to that, he wrote many books. I could go on for hour talking about his different accomplishments and the risks he took in his life. Looks like it wasn’t for nothing.

[2] All the course of action are risky, so prudence is not avoiding danger (it’s impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer.” – Machiavelli 

I first read that quote in the book 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. I really liked it. I know it was said by Machiavelli the author of The Prince, but I don’t know where he said it. Every thing you will do will have is share of risks.

It’s impossible to avoid risks. I mean taking you car in the morning can be a risk. I could say the same about taking the plane. Don’t make the mistake of being apathetic, make mistakes by doing audacious things. You can develop a strength to do bold things. In that matter, you should consult law #28 in 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene (Enter Action with boldness).

[3] A ship is always safe at the shore – but that is NOT what it is built for.” – Albert Einstein

In other words, Einstein was trying to that we were built to take risk, We weren’t built stay inside a shelter and watch life goes by. What is the use of building a ship if you are not going to take it to the sea. I might sound self-righteous by telling you that you should do other things than watching tv and drinking beer. I’m in the same boat, from time to time, we all need a good kick in the ass.  You must live experiences in your life. You must make it worthwhile. Otherwise you’ll regret it. 

[4] “It is better by noble boldness to run the risk of being subject to half the evils we anticipate than to remain in cowardly listlessness for fear of what might happen.” – Herodotus

This was said by the Greek historian Herodotus in his work The Histories. He wrote it more than 2000 years ago and it didn’t grow old. Doing something we fear and going through the repercussions will always be better than doing nothing. You will probably miss more by doing nothing than by attempting.

[5] “The time to take counsel of your fears is before you make an important battle decision. That’s the time to listen to every fear you can imagine! When you have collected all the facts and fears and made your decision, turn off all your fears and go ahead!” – General George S. Patton

Patton was American general during the second world war. I think what he meant by that is take into account all the fears you have about taking a risk. Then, imagine the worst case scenario. Most of the time, the worst case scenario isn’t life or death dilemma. Once you know your fear, forget them and head for the battlefield. If you want to know more about this man, you should watch Patton with George C. Scott.

[6] “It’s not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It’s because we dare not venture that they are difficult.” – Seneca

Lucius Seneca (4 BC – AD 65) was Roman philosopher and one of the main figure of stoicism. I really like how he depicted the idea of risk. We consciously make things difficult. If you don’t want to do something, you’ll find any reason in the world to make it difficult. It’s often the case that after we did something risky, that we will say that it was easy in the end. If you want to know more about his work, I suggest Letters From a Stoic and On Shortness of Life.

[7] “People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.” – Peter F. Drucker

Peter F. Drucker is the author of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and bunch of other great business books. I think he meant that people who take risks don’t make more mistakes than those who don’t. Acting with boldness will probably be way more rewarding in the end of the year than doing nothing.

[8] “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain 

The boat thematic is quite popular in the field of risk quotes. This quote was attributed to the writer Mark Twain, but it cannot be verified. I think it’s really straight forward. Think of yourself in twenty years. Will you be disappointed by the risks you didn’t take? Don’t fear to try things outside of your comfort zone.

[9] “Play the game for more than you can afford to lose… only then will you learn the game.” – Winston Churchill

I don’t know the context of that quote from the British Prime Minister during the second world war. My interpretation of it is that  you will never reach the top of your game if you’re not ready to lose first. Avoiding the lost, is avoiding to play. Can you imagine a boxer never going in a ring. This is the whole essence of the game. You must play it and play it again.

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Always the Hard Way

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We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”John F. Kennedy

Human is lazy by nature. We are triggered for the easy stuff. It’s not a surprise that it’s more difficult to wake up to go for a run than staying in bed. Unless we impose ourselves to go on the harder path, we won’t fall on it by luck. You can find yourself on the easy way without even knowing it. Just look at your life and you’ll most likely see areas where you’re avoiding hard work. I’ve found that the hard way can be tricky. What used to be a zone of danger, can become the new comfort zone. Therefore, even in the improvements that we achieve, we will find a way to keep to status quo.

One of my best personal example, I’ve set a goal to read much more during the past three years. This year, I will be near the double of my last year number. It’s ten time bigger than it was 5 years ago.  I’ve notice that the more I’m reading, the more I tend to go for books that I’m comfortable with. I’m plainly avoiding the hard way. I know I should be reading thick books like The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, The Last Lion Trilogy or War and Peace. In the end, they would give me much more benefits and knowledge. That’s why I’ve started The 48 Laws of Power that was in my bookshelf for years. That’s why I’ll get into The Selfish Genes after even if this is the kind of book that isn’t easy for me.

I did the same pattern in the gym for a few years. I was avoiding the most difficult. I was skipping deadlift and squat. Plain and simply because they are difficult and painful exercises. The truth is that it was what I needed the most to do. What we tend to avoid is most likely what we should be doing. I’ve avoided having a real weightlifting plan before stumbling upon 5/3/1. It was way easier to write my own program and build it around my skills. Doing more of the easy, doing less of the difficult. 

You can see through history than many people had success by taking the hard way. Arnold Schwarzenegger took the hard way when he has decided to move to America. He left Austria, his friend and his family behind. He wanted to be a professional bodybuilder and that’s what he did. Without that move, maybe we wouldn’t even know him today. Taking the hard way lead him to take it again and again. It became a habit for him. Watch Pumping Iron and you’ll someone who is embracing the hard way. Doing Hollywood movies with english as a second language isn’t the easy way. We could say the same for becoming governor of California. All his life turned around doing hard things.

You want another example? Napoleon Bonaparte was dethroned in 1814 and was sent in captivity in the Island of Elba near Italia. He was a prisoner, but he was living the life of a rich noble. He could still see friends and family. He was free inside the island, but couldn’t leave it. Staying there for him was the easy way. He chose to escape in 1815, he went back to France and took back his throne in a matter of days. He stayed 100 days in power until he was defeated in Waterloo. It didn’t finish well for him. He tried and he could have succeed. He went on the hard way instead of dreaming about it. The good news is that unlike Bonaparte, most of the risks we will take during our lives won’t be as dramatic. 

The whole idea is doing what you aren’t comfortable of doing. Look at the thing you are the most avoiding. Start doing them. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Go beyond your threshold. You will see how your life will take a sudden turn. I was afraid of doing For Victory or Death for months until I decided to take the hard way. I was finding every reasons on earth to avoid writing. Looks like I’m not dead yet. 

In the Bookshelf #3: 7 Years in Tibet

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“We have a saying in Tibet: If a problem can be solved there is no use worrying about it. If it can’t be solved, worrying will do no good.” – Dalai Lama

When I think about an epic life, Heinrich Harrer comes immediately to my mind. He was on the climbing team that made the first ascent of the north face of the Eiger in 1938. The novelist Arthur J. Roth called it the “Wall of Death“.  Harrer went to India to attempt an ascent of Diamir Face of the Nanga Parbat. He was planning to conquer the Himalaya. His projects were halted when the Second World War erupted. He was arrested and put in British POW camp in India. He had to tried multiple attempt of escape before finally succeeding 1944. He has managed to reach Tibet by foot and cross the border. He will live in Tibet for 7 years until the Chinese invasion. Even more impressive, he will one of the few westerners to be accepted in the “foreign city” of Lhasa. He will meet the Dalai Lama and will become his tutor. After, his seven years in Tibet, Harrer will do many more adventures where he will climb several mountains in Alaska, Andes, Borneo, New Guinea and in Eastern Africa. He explored the Amazon with the former king of Belgium Leopold III. He’s the author of 40 documentaries and more than 20 books including The White Spider and today’s book Seven Years in Tibet. The book is mainly Harrer’s travel journal from is prison camp to his departure of Tibet in 1952. 

I think one of the main lesson I’ve learned from “Seven Years in Tibet” is to never quit. Harrer never accepted to stay in prison as POW. He didn’t want to lose years of his life in internment. He tried multiple attempts before succeeding. Most of us would have quit the first time. Reaching Tibet by foot from India is not easy deed and he managed to do it. In Tibet, he was sometime in really difficult condition, without food and sleeping outside. Tibet’s authorities didn’t want him in the country because he was strange. He tried every possible ways to stay in the country. He bought more and more time. He didn’t quit in his dream of reaching Lhasa even with minimal chance of getting inside the forbidden city. After Tibet, he will never quit his fight against the chinese invasion. I think we can learn a lot from that.

Seven Years in Tibet also teach us to be more open to other cultures and to be more curious about life. Harrer comes to Tibet as westerner. Tibet in 1945 was still in feudal system ruled by the Dalai Lama. Men, beasts and lands are property of him. Is power is strongly supported by a monastic order of monks. Buddhism is the main religion and it is deeply anchored in Tibet tradition. As he will see, it is forbidden to kill any living animals or humans. Even taking something that come from an animal like honey is against the law. People in Tibet express deep devotion. Religion occupies most of the life of the individual. Harrer will learn a whole other way of living. As he will say: “Tibet has not yet been infested by the worst disease of modern life, the everlasting rush.”  European haste has no place in Tibet. The book can make us understand the different tradeoffs of the modern culture. A new way of living, will mean the disappearance of an old way. A new technology will remove an older one. A new custom, will make an old one go. Harrer explained it well: “Here it is the yak’s pace that dictates the tempo of life, and so it has been for thousands of years. Would Tibet be happier for being transformed? Tibet will deeply change him.

He will be force to leave Tibet because of the invasion. Powerless and he will say: “I felt like a spectator at a play, who foresaw the tragic denouement and was saddened by the inevitable end, but had to sit out the last act“. But, he will never forget how lucky he was for those seven years. He lived something that couldn’t have happen elsewhere. He will feel homesick of Tibet even after is return in Austria. He will write “Seven Years in Tibet” in the hope of turning the eyes of the world to the fate of Tibet. Forty-four years later a movie will be made about this epic story.