Gurbaksh Chahal | Don’t be Afraid to Take Chances

A Ship in a Harbour is Safe

“A ship in a harbor is safe but that’s not why ships are built.”

That is a powerful quote and it can also be used for how we live our lives in general. Do we want to play it safe or do we want to discover our purpose?

In every successful entrepreneur there’s an element of a risk-taker. You have to be willing to take chances; think outside of that box that everyone is always talking about; and then step outside of that box.

You have to be someone who isn’t afraid to rock the boat; someone who sees opportunity where others see danger; someone who isn’t afraid to break new ground and explore new ventures.

If you don’t go for it; if you don’t reach for the stars; if you don’t take chances you’ll never be a winner.

As Wayne Gretzky put it: “You’ll always miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

There’s the issue. Many people don’t take any shots at all. Their fear freezes them into inactivity. But you can’t get anywhere without taking some kind of risk. So what if you do fail? That’s a heck of a lot more productive than doing nothing at all. You’ve got off your backside and done something. And guess what? As long as you learn from that experience you’ll be yards closer to scoring those winning goals.

No-one in their senior years looks back and regrets things that they tried to do—but they do regret things that they did not try to do. Don’t be afraid to take chances. Don’t end up reviewing your life saying “I wish I had…” or “If only I had…”

Now is the time you can do something about it—so do it. Be adventurous. Seize the day. Stretch beyond your comfort zone.

But now for a note of caution.

When I talk about taking chances and taking risks I don’t mean rolling the dice and putting everything on number nine. I’m talking about taking calculated risks where you have done your research and assessed an opportunity. You’re betting on yourself because you know what you’re capable of doing and you’ve worked out the odds. It may not be a sure thing. It may be something that’s not been done before. But you know that the odds are in your favor.

Mark Twain, encouraging adventurism, said, “Sail away from the safe harbor.” But you wouldn’t want to sail away without making sure that all of the rigging was secure and your boat was loaded with provisions; that you had an experienced and trusted crew at your side; and you had a clear idea how to navigate to the port of your dreams.

It’s only natural to overestimate the possibility of failure and underestimate our ability to handle the situation should something go amiss. That’s the fear sitting on your shoulder whispering in your ear. I would argue that doing nothing is equally as risky because your business will stagnate and when you stagnate you can die.

So here are some actions you should take.

Take calculated risks. This will keep you on edge and mindful of evading the pitfalls that open up in front of you while, at the same time, raising the reward potential. Always weigh up the costs and benefits and work out the worst case scenario of failure. I’m a firm believer in listening to my gut, going with my intuition. But the “gut feeling” is not irrational because it is based on years of hard experience.

Take small chances before you take big chances. This way you’ll build up your experience and your ability to handle the ups and downs. And you should build financial reserves to cope with any eventuality.

Take evasive action. Change course when circumstances demand. When a storm rocks your boat batten down the hatches and hold on tight to the wheel. If you know where you’re going you’ll navigate your way through the harshest hurricane.

Take heed. Learn from the chances you took. Maybe as the captain you could have charted a different course. Maybe the crew didn’t perform as you expected. It’s all part of life’s journey which gives you the knowledge you need for your next adventure.

Take heart! Sometimes you take chances and they don’t work out. It might be a business deal, a personnel hire, or a personal relationship. Sometimes you take a step backwards so that you can take a leap forwards.

And always remember, as someone once said, “When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.”

Never give up.