Interesting People Take More Risks

“Fortune Favors the Bold” – Virgil

That quote is almost 2,000 years old, but still rings as true today as much as it did back then.  It is probably even more true since we actually live in a much safer time than back when it was first written.  We live in an age of modern medicine and much lower overall rates of violent deaths and deaths from other afflictions.

Every successful and interesting person took risks to get where they are today.  A risk is generally something that the average person chooses not to do out of fear.  The question is whether or not that fear is rational in the first place.

I’m not saying that interesting people take random reckless risks.  Ending up dead or in prison is not interesting at all.

Interesting people take calculated risks.  The look at something like skydiving and ask themselves “Is this really more dangerous than me getting into my car every day?”

They look at starting a business and ask themselves “Is looking to build my own source of income really more risky than today’s job market where positions are consistently downsized and jobs moved overseas, or are becoming outdated through the use of computers and other machines?”

One of the biggest regrets of the elderly, especially on their deathbeds, is having not taken enough risks in their life.  At that point the most they can do is fantasize about how they should have done things.

The wisest quote I had ever heard on the subject is from Helen Keller:

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. God Himself is not secure, having given man dominion over His works! Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold. Faith alone defends. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.”

Have you ever noticed in life when you obsessively try to avoid something that you often seem to be more likely to actually encounter it?  It seems that if we avoid risk to an excessive degree that the universe itself laughs at us for the futile effort.


It is also known that the human mind is prone to pessimism.  This tendency to see the worst in the world around us kept us alive tens of thousands of years ago when we lived out in the wild surrounded by poisonous plants and dangerous animals.  Strange tribes were also often very brutal when encountering other tribes looking to kill and steal what the others had.  Our ancestors being obsessively avoidant of risks is one of the reasons we ourselves are here today.

In modern days though most of us know which animals to avoid and rarely encounter dangerous ones (besides the occasional angry squirrel or uppity housecat.)  Most of us live in countries with laws and law enforcement.  Statistically speaking, despite what the nightly news might want you to think, this is the safest time to live in all of recorded history both in absolute numbers and by deaths per 1,000 people.

We live in the modern world, but are hardwired for the prehistoric world.  Prehistoric wiring doesn’t lead to the highest level of success and/or total life satisfaction these days.

If you acted too boldly in the past you risked being kicked out of your 50 person tribe and left to hunt by yourself, or the tribal leader and his close friends killed you that same day.

Luckily we live in the modern world, have relatively intelligent brains and can look at risk differently.  Overcoming our biological wiring can be a challenge, but gets easier over time.

Those rare few that realize these facts and take smart risks reap great rewards and live a much more interesting life.

The fact that most people won’t follow through with many risks that are actually statistically safe mean there are countless opportunities for life success and the ability to stand out from the crowd by being perceived as being a “daring” person.

Taking these smart calculated risks makes one feel more alive, and even if things don’t work out well you’ll usually survive it makes for an even better story.

Look back on your life.  Many of the best stories which you love to tell and people love to hear involved things working out poorly, taking a risk, or overcoming a challenge.  Taking more risks in life gives you more interesting stories to tell.

The idea of there being a relationship between risk and reward is all too much of a cliche these days.  We’ve all heard it phrased in many different ways, but how many of us actually internalize and act on its wisdom?

When living your life always strive to be a little more bold.  Calculate what you want, what you need to do, and whether or not the real risk involved makes it worth it.  Be sure to include the risks of not acting in your mental equations.

Either way, most of us are leading far too timid of lives and most of us will regret this.

Live each day as you would wish you would have lived it when you’re 90 years old on your deathbed.

Wishing you the best,



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