What if the Real Risk is the Leap You Didn't Take?

How often do you ask that question?

More often, I bet your focus is on when you take a chance and what you thought would happen (or planned on happening) doesn’t quite pan out.

You take a leap, but the net you prepared for doesn’t appear!

Want to leave your job – without a job.

No problem, you’ve saved enough money.

Want to finally start an entrepreneurial venture.

Not only have you saved, but you researched and tested your product or service idea. Success is most certain!

Want to start a new relationship. Or, maybe leave one.

Either is a choice that involves welcoming in new love, and you’re ready.

These are all common examples of the usual leaps you and I take.

They are also examples of leaps you may think about or talk about taking but never really act on because of the “net.” The three-letter word that means different things to each of us and looks differently for each of us, too – but that symbolizes safety in having made the right choice and assurance that you can handle the consequences.

Lately, I’ve been wondering: What if the real risk is the leap you and I don’t take?

What would you say…

What would you do…

What might you discover if the net you needed to feel confident enough to take a leap was there?

What sparked this inquiry was a blog post written by and about one of my favorite people in the personal finance journalism space, Tess Vigeland. For background, Tess was, for many years, the host of Marketplace Money (one of my favorite NPR programs). She leapt, leaving the show two years ago without a plan B and her post was an update on the lessons she learned and the opportunities that have unfolded because of her taking the leap.

As she recounted her story, I wondered…

What assumptions do we make about what’s “safe” and “secure?”

When is a leap a wee-bit insane rather than a brave + bold move?

If all leaps, to some extent, are steps into the unknown, why are some considered conventional and others unconventional?

And then in an exchange with a friend on LinkedIn, I wondered: What gets left unsaid, undone, and undiscovered, because our fear about the net (would it break, shift, or disappear) prevented us from taking a leap?

And so I ask you: What’s stopping you from taking the leap – that thing which was the first thought that popped to mind as you’ve read this thus far?

More than likely, it’s a concern…

  • about money;
  • or time;
  • or the gulf between the perception you have of yourself and the perception others have of you;
  • or the tricky balance of conforming yet doing it your way (let’s face it, we all conform to something to some degree).

Since everyone’s net is different, perhaps the first place to start is with making sure you’re really making decisions based on what your net needs to look like – and not based upon someone else’s definition. Avoid the trap of doing with the risks and nets what is commonly done regarding money – viewing it monolithically.

Maybe it requires a reexamination of what you’re labeling as a safe bet.

Maybe it requires remembering that your leap into the unknown isn’t one big, gigantic step made spontaneously, but a series of small, measured and thoughtful steps.

Maybe reflecting on the wise words of Henry David Thoreau can help:

“We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success.”

Leap responsibly. Leap thoughtfully. Leap deliberately. Leap with creative caution. But stop procrastinating and take that leap you’ve been contemplating!

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