Your LifeSkills Collection
How do you rank your 'risk taking' ability?
Here is an important LifeSkill that will help you!!!
Benefits of this LifeSkill:
You must stick your neck out if you want to get your head above the crowd. To discover new worlds, you must be willing to lose sight of the shore. In your life, you must take chances occasionally if you want to accomplish something out of the ordinary.
We Continuously Face Risks
Innately, we all have a certain amount of Risk Taking Ability (RTA), whatever culture we belong to. During initial years of a child, this ability generally develops, as we are eager to explore new and exciting things. 'Adventure' prevails over 'safe' to some degree during those early years of discovery. (which incidentally makes parents over protective and hence discourage high risk situations). Depending on our environment and experiences (primarily parent's protective style) this ability is either encouraged or discouraged, by the time we reach adulthood. For a vast average majority the 'early years' define an "RTA range of comfort" which perhaps determines our 'threshold limits' to make extreme choices for the rest of our lives. Staying below this range brings us frustrations, anxiety, restlessness (where people sometimes feel something is missing in their lives) and exceeding (upper maximum limit) this range brings us stress and pain we cannot handle (hence shy away). An average human brain will seek comfort somewhere in the middle.... often referred to as "Optimum Stress Level" (OSL) by psychologists.
Somehow I find similarity between our childhood conditioning and the way baby elephants are conditioned....
Have you ever seen a grown elephant and wondered why its tied to a thin rope or chain which he can easily break?
When an elephant is still at an infant stage, it is tied to a large pole or a tree for several months. It tries its best to break free but cannot. Until one day he starts believing that if he is tied up, he cannot break free. So he stops trying. Then when he grows up, although he can easily sever the rope or chain, being the strong hunk that he has become, but his childhood conditioning tells him, "Don't even try". If he would "Just do it" (like the Nike advertisement) he would be free. Even if anybody would go up to him and say, "You can do it" he would not believe. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learnt from this. Our own childhood conditioning determines our boundaries which convert into insecurities of the future - hence the RTA range of comfort.
Several factors (while growing up) contribute to structuring our RTA range ... e.g. Culture in which we grow up... risky vs. safe environment, being the only child vs. one amongst five siblings, shyness vs. self confidence encouragement, Proactive vs. reactive personality style, reward and punishment of successes and failures, ambition... to name a few.
Does this mean we are stuck with our RTA range for the rest of our life? Well, what do you think?
Circumstances during our lifetime do affect this 'RTA comfort range' as well. Adverse experiences or strong desires also expand or contract our risk taking faculty.
Would you like to increase and expand your "RTA range"? or are you comfortable where you are?
What will you gain by expanding it? or... What will you lose if you don't expand it?
Please pause and think for a minute (answer the above questions in your mind or on paper).
Why do I take less risks as I grow older?
As a kid I took lots of risks. In school I took lots of risks. In college I took lots of risks. Having finished my University in Texas, I returned to Pakistan with extreme motivation to nurture my creativity (in 1985). I joined the corporate world... My first job was with British American Tobacco (a large conglomerate). Three months into my job I approached my boss, "Boss, I have a new idea to do this differently and more effectively". He replied immediately, "Haseeb, you are not paid to think, just follow this line". Possessing a childlike excitement, that I have, I kept going back and every time I got a similar response. I was being "conditioned" to the corporate world to take orders. Creativity was required but not at that level of the organization and certainly not at a remotely located manufacturing plant in their finance department.
Around the same time I got married... Now this was a different life altogether. From a risk taker I became a safe player like everybody around me.... and the years passed by....and the frustrations grew of adjusting to a life lower than my original plan or vision. I changed a few jobs in the ten years of my working in the corporate world. My original vision was to work for a couple of years and then do my own business.
But the couple of years turned into ten years. Although, I made good progress, in comparison to the people around me, as I was still taking more risks than others, yet the frustration and helplessness started showing on my body. I became over weight and looked older than my age, not to mention the nightmare that I became in my domestic life. Imagine a 36 year old finance (accountant) geek, cynical, Mr. Know it all, low self esteem, aggressive, insecure individual who wants to prove he hasn't lost it.
Why? perhaps because I compromised in the name of 'calculated risks'. Although I was sitting on top of the 'corporate pyramid' yet in the 'pyramid of life' I ranked quite low. I realized that the power and image in the corporate structure was quite superficial and will last only as long as I can "secure" myself at a certain position - It was not permanent. But the stakes were higher than ever - extremely difficult to "Let Go". It seemed pain and frustration and misery were a dominant aspect of life. I wanted a change but didn't know how.
Then something happened....
How I re-gained my Risk Taking Ability (RTA)
Zaufyshan (my wife) and I, alongwith our three lovely children, Hamza, Amal and Miryll decided to take a vacation in 1995 to Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. On August 8th, last day of our vacation we decided to rent a Jeep and drive around Phuket (Island in Thailand). We visited several places and among them was a "Bungy Jumping" sport facility over a lake. We saw a crane pulling a cabin over water and stopped at 50 meters (150 feet). Then we witnessed a man jumping in the air over the lake and his legs were tied up to an elastic rope. He bounced up down a few times and finally the cabin came down. Some helpers pulled him on shore. Another person went up and jumped. Third person went up but didn't have courage to jump. He quickly disappeared as soon as the cabin came down, as he was embarrassed to face anybody.
I approached the Australian Franchise owner and asked him, "Has anybody ever died on this?", he replied, "No not on this one". I finally gathered all my courage and paid for my jump. They made me sign a "no responsibility" paper in case something went wrong. Very methodically, they took my weight and tied my legs together to the elastic rope. Before I knew I was sitting in the cabin and the cabin is moving up with the engine humming sound. Hmmmm....Half way up, the Thai person asked me, "Have you ever jumped before?"
I replied, "No I have never jumped before"
He said, "When the cabin comes to a stop, hop on to this open area and hold on to the bars but don't look down", "When I count 4, 3, 2, 1 Bungee, just jump, don't look down"
When the engines humming finally stopped at the top I could hear my heartbeat ....Dhuk Dhuk.
I hopped on to the open area, held on to the bars and looked straight. I knew something was deep down 150 feet but I didn't look down. (I could still hear my heartbeat).... Yes I was scared. My palms became moist with tension holding the bars very tightly. I can still feel that moment of agony eleven years later as I am narrating this story to you.
Then he said he is going to count and I heard, "4,3,2,1 Bungee" and.....
Instead of jumping, I looked down "Wow this is really high. There is no way I can jump this distance"
I could see my wife holding a video camera beyond the big lake, alongwith my 3 small children (my youngest daughter Miryll had just barely learnt how to walk).
Noticing my reluctance, the Thai helper spoke in his Thai accent, "No Jump, no refund"!
I replied, "I don't give a damn about the refund. Get me out of here I'll pay you extra".
He chuckled and said, "Make up your mind"
Closing my eyes I replied, "Give me a minute" and took a deep breath.
Allow me to share two major thoughts that crossed my mind in those moments of indecisiveness, pain and helplessness...
1) I always thought that I had it in me (call it my ego or whatever). The "corporate rut" had somehow replaced my self confidence with low self esteem over the 'conditioning' (adjustment) years. Now this was a moment of test to prove to myself that I still had it in me. For I had pushed myself at this brink of a life threatening extreme sport. Whatever the background and baggage, I was now faced with a "Choice". If I turn back I would never be able to face myself in the mirror. It would only add to my frustration and low self esteem. So no matter what the consequences I had to take the 'plunge'. Even at the expense of losing my life. This was indeed a 'point of no return'. If I really was serious about my dreams then I had to take this risky step. Somehow the link became very clear to me, but the actual courage to "Let Go" was still not strong enough.
2) My wife and children are down there waiting for me to jump and prove that I have courage to take risky steps in my life. I must admit that the male ego to prove to my wife, Zaufyshan, that 'I'm the Man' and leading by example to my children were very strong convincing points during this crucial contemplative debate in my mind.
But still no jump....It was not easy to 'Let Go'... I opened my eyes and looked down... yes it was far.
Then I heard encouraging words from Zaufyshan who shouted from amongst a hundred spectators below , "Come on Haseeb, you can do it"!!! These encouraging words from my life partner was the trigger I needed...
and I 'Let Go'.... three seconds later I touched the water and was pulled back up like a puppet on a string.... came up and down a few times until the cabin came on shore and helpers untied my legs.
They gave me a certificate of courage which i proudly took to my family....I met the franchise owner on the way, who remarked, "Look at you, you are a different person now".... Indeed it was the beginning of a new life for me from then onwards.
Three main lessons I learnt from this exercise:
1) Instead of hanging on to past baggage, develop the ability to 'Let go'... Indecision is more painful than the actual decision. Letting go of previous baggage of insecurities, habits, thoughts, beliefs, assumptions... having faith in the unknown is important to make progress in life.
2) Being close to people who encourage you to take bold steps in your life is very important. (I am fortunate to have a wife who has encouraged me in all major steps), specially in leaving my well paying job 11 years ago and starting Intek with no certainty of the future.
3) 'Dealing with uncertainty' is an important skills that must be developed specially for people who have a structured and routine life. Leaving the comfort zone requires "faith" in the unknown. The belief, "whatever is going to happen is going to happen for the best" is essential for risk takers to take any plunge.
Many people consider my act of bungee jumping a foolish one as it jeopardizes ones life....But now when I look back at the past eleven years I stopped being afraid of difficult people, bills, difficult situations, challenges etc... If I hadn't jumped, I probably would be stuck in my 'ignorant shell' trying to secure myself always with my choices /decisions and would indeed have missed so many joys of life that I have so far experienced by freeing myself.
I am not advocating that you take an extreme step of this sort to jeopardize your life or a shock therapy... There are other ways to expand your Risk Taking Ability (RTA). Here are some action steps that might be beneficial:
Here are some ways to expand your Risk Taking Ability (RTA)
contingency plan. Identify 'risks or pitfalls' before
taking a step... If you know what might go wrong you can plan to recover
from it in case it happens.
Remember: Your 'risk taking ability' (RTA) is directly connected to your 'capacity to absorb stress'. 'Capacity to absorb stress' is essential to cope with difficult situations calmly with ease, which otherwise might seem like panic situations we cannot handle. And 'capacity' can be built further with practice and repeated action. (step by step)
Practice the above (Consciously) for one year. Keep track of your risky decisions. Keep a journal, "Risky Decisions" by your bedside and review it every week or as and when you record your feelings. Years later you will look back at your "Risky Decision" journal and smile!!!
– “You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.” --- Paulo Coelho
- "Be brave, take risks, nothing can substitute experience". --- Paulo Coelho
- "Do not fear risk. Without challenge people cannot reach their higher selves. Only if we are willing to walk over the edge can we become winners.” --- Anonymous
- "The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.” --- Leo F. Buscagila
- “He who risks and fails can be forgiven. He who never risks and never fails is a failure in his whole being.” --- Paul Tillich
- “You have to risk going too far to discover just how far you can really go.” --- T. S. Elliot
- “You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight” --- Jim Rohn
philosopher Aristotle said that all virtues are located on what he called
the “golden mean” between two vices. The virtue of courage, or the
willingness to take risks, is located between these two vices: cowardice
on one end and impetuousness on the other. Your job is to straddle this
golden mean and to strike a happy balance between acting impetuously,
without thought, and not acting at all, allowing fear to govern your
emotions and actions.
Further Inspirational Reading
Trust you will have a brave year ahead!!!
Well wishes from
Please email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you feel this email has benefited you. Thank you!!!
Haseeb T Hasan, manages a "Training and Consultancy" Business in Dubai alongwith his wife Zaufyshan. Both Husband/Wife team are dedicated to improving people's lives, personally and professionally. To learn more about them, please visit www.intekworld.com .
This LifeSkills Issue is an extract from Haseeb's forthcoming book.
P O Box 81180
Tel: 00971 4 334 2830
Fax: 00971 4 334 2831
For consultancy or training please contact Shelley at Shelley@intekworld.com
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What are LifeSkills?
Skills needed to live happily and progress "better" in personal and professional life are called LifeSkills!!!
In today’s New Economy, additional tools and skills are needed to prosper and be successful. It’s all about “Empowerment.” You need to empower yourself to make changes in your life, to look at and react to situations differently than you have in the past.
A fulfilling life!
Build your self confidence
"Bring out the inner child in you"
Try new things
Taking risks for higher rewards...
Haseeb with Zaufyshan and 3 children, Hamza, Amal and Miryll --- inspiration behind his fulfilling life