Success comes with risks: Are you willing to take them?

Have you ever stopped to reflect on what success looks like to you?

Most of us have a dream of becoming ‘successful’, but our dreams can look very different. They could include a nice house and car, having a life-long partner and kids, becoming a CEO, joining a rock band or simply having the time and space to do what we want.

Sometimes, we define our success by someone else’s standards. Whether this is done consciously or unconsciously, we end up living life by default and not design. Social norms can dictate what we ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ be doing with our lives and we can end up fearing the consequences of not fitting in.

Sam Cobb - CEO, Adalta

Sam Cobb - CEO, Adalta

“Fight or flight” blocks success.

As author and CEO of Thought Leaders, Peter Cook, pointed out in his podcast interview on The Mentor List, we haven’t evolved to be successful. We have evolved to survive in the African Savannah 50,000 years ago. That is when we used our self-preservation instinct of fight or flight to keep us alive. When faced with danger, we had to either stand and fight or run away. There was no time for anything else. That instinct has stuck with us all this time even though we are unlikely to encounter hungry lions on an average day anymore.

When we find ourselves in perceived danger, our attention becomes extremely focused. Our bodies divert all our energy to our central organs to get our adrenaline pumping. This also means diverting energy away from the brain, so logical thinking goes out the window. If we are constantly stuck in this mode due to the stresses of modern life, we lose the ability to see the bigger picture.

We can also condition ourselves to avoid stress and uncertainty by staying tucked into our comfort zone. If being successful means stepping outside this zone, we’ll stay where we are, thank you very much!

Live life by design rather than by default

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body. But rather, to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming…. Wow! What a ride!”

Mark Frost

In his interview, Peter also noted that we have evolved to fit in with our tribe. If we didn’t fit in with the tribe, we died. Now, instead of allowing the tribe to determine what our success should look like, we can use the need to fit in to our advantage. Peter suggests finding a ‘tribe’ of people doing what you aspire to be doing and trying to fit in with them. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people will help feed your mind and move you toward your goals.

Participants in the Thought Leaders Business School program (of which Peter is the founding Dean) are definitely part of an amazing and successful tribe. However, to be included, they can’t just dip their toe in the water, they have to be 100% committed to immersing themselves in the program for 12 months and to changing their lives forever.

While this may not be the right road to success for you, you still need to have a clear idea of where you want to head.

Explore your options

Jon Yeo is the conveyer of TEDx Melbourne. When Jon was interviewed by The Mentor List he noted that of all the presenters he has seen, the ones that stuck in his memory were those who clearly understood their purpose and the message they wanted to share.

If you want to work out your purpose, don’t do it as a knee-jerk reaction after being in a stressful situation (such as a divorce or business failure). Instead, step back, take some time and broaden your focus to include as many possibilities as you can. Be open to learning and trying new things.

(You might also like the TML article How to discover your life’s purpose.)

Be willing to take risks

 “Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."

Helen Keller

Yes, success comes with risks, but so does everything in life.

For example, when we drive to work, we tend to block out the thought that we are driving a tonne of metal at high speeds on roads filled with other tonnes of metal also travelling at high speeds and all operated by very unpredictable humans. We take risks like this for granted yet blow others out of proportion because we don’t understand them.

It’s important to remember that there are risks involved in not changing or not making big decisions, too. For example, you might avoid following a health treatment that could dramatically improve your quality of life because of the fear of potential side-effects. Or, perhaps, choosing not to drive a car could limit your choice of work or access to your family and friends.

What it comes down to is that success is a choice. Are you willing to define your choice, accept the risks and commit yourself to it? That’s up to you.

Call to action…

Thought Leaders CEO Peter Cook has a wealth of experience when it comes to leveraging your expertise for maximum impact.

Peter is a best- selling author with eight books to his name. With over 15 years’ experience as a consultant to some of the largest companies in the world, Peter is well equipped to help thought leaders, business leaders and everyday people achieve business and financial mastery.

If you’d like to hear Peter’s insights on success, thought leadership and reshaping your life, tune into his podcast interview on The Mentor List. Peter is also an Ishaya monk and has a third dan black belt in Aikido, so don’t mess with him!

Kick start your personal journey to success from the conversations David has with his inspirational guests on The Mentor List.

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