Marketer + Content Strategist for Hire

Musings on Marketing, Adventure, Culture & Creativity

A cross between a personal journal and  professional lessons learned, this is a little space to talk about the good stuff.

The Beautiful Yet Un-Glamorous Reality of Risk-Taking

[Note: This post was originally published over on Be Your Own Muse.]

There's something dramatic, wild and dashing about a certain kind of risk-taking. It seems dashing to just go, to leave that high-paying job for some other adventure, something romantic about just going for it, whatever it is. 

That kind of risk-taking seems so . It's alluring, and the people who are willing to take those risks - well, they're magnetic.

Many of our Muses are these kinds of risk-takers. From our most recent Muse, Candy, to one of our earliest Muses, Andrea, these women have chosen to take that leap of faith and pursue their passions. We love them for it, and we recognize this desire in ourselves.

And yet. The reality of this kind of risk-taking is different. It's not so glamorous. But it is beautiful.

In my experience, the concept of risk is a matter of perspective. When you're at that crossroads, the choice to take the risk is the choice of a single step. In the moment, it feels much smaller than a leap. (It also feels more necessary.)

The Decision to Take that Risk Starts Earlier than You Think

You've already put in a lot of work to get to where you can take the risk. By that point, you've already begun pushing yourself, you've already challenged your priorities and preconceptions, you've already begun the difficult work of defining what you want and how to get there. By that point, you've probably also already made the decision to take that chance, even if you don't quite know that yet.

We wouldn't be here had Sarah not taken the risk to move to Seattle, or I to take the differently toned risk of moving back home to Charlotte. Through these experiences, we realized that we were missing substance and connection. From these feelings, and the joy of our long-distance friendship, we realized we could share that appreciation and gratitude widely. While we've grown tremendously in 8 months, those first steps were very (very) small.

Many Risk-Takers Don't Throw Caution Entirely to the Wind

While there is glamour in just going, many people who take risks do have a lifeline - even if it's not fully tethered. When pro long boarder Candy spoke about taking smart risks in her interview, it really resonated. I know exactly how that feels, and so does everyone who has a side-hustle.

"I’d advise her to take risks, safely. This may seem like an oxymoron, but the idea is to choose your risks wisely."

Candy Dungan, with advice for her daughter on risk-taking

Even if you're fully committed to living your creative future, you have to make strategic decisions. Having a safety net or a back-up plan doesn't mean you're afraid of the risk, or not fully committed to it, but it does mean that you're prepared to pivot in case it becomes necessary.

There's a Lovely Naïveté in Risk-Takers

People who are willing to take risks have a naïveté about them. They don't worry about the historical context of what they're doing, what it "means," or why it won't work - they just work their butts off to see that it does.

Former Muse Kelly Holmes expressed this beautifully. As an early-twenty-something, she founded the world's first Native fashion and lifestyle magazine. At 24-years-old, she now leads a publication that is growing rapidly. When asked about this idea, here is what she said:

"I myself have this “tunnel vision” when it comes to working towards something. All I see is the end result, and the rewards that’ll come from accomplishing it. Then when I’m in the middle of everything, I finally notice the amount of work it takes and all the money, time and energy it’s going to take.

"In its own ways, it’s both good and bad. It just means I don’t look at a problem as a problem. I look at a problem and think of a number of solutions to fix it."

- Kelly Holmes, Founder of Native Max Mag

Ask for Help - It Helps Us All

You know what else? People want to help each other.

As Amanda Palmer explains in her book, The Art of Asking, when you ask for help, you give someone else the opportunity to be their best self and show generosity. The truth is, we like to ask for help and offer it. So don't be afraid to make yourself vulnerable and ask for support.

While it seems a little loony to say this, but the universe wants to help you, too. When you're on your path, living with love and gratitude, the universe delivers. Or at least, it seems to.

The incredible reality is this: building the life you dream of is a challenge and a journey. It requires hustle, guts and vision. It's not all jumping and landing on your feet - most of it is taking one small step, every day.

While it's not glamorous, it is beautiful.

Kinsey SullivanComment