Small Braveries

I shocked a friend the other day by asking a guy in Central Market about his relationship status.

She started it.

Given that other patrons occupied every seat in the café and he had finished his meal, the man offered us his table. He packed up and left, I told my friend I found him attractive, and she asked if I’d gotten his number.

I replied, “I don’t do stuff like that!”

Yet I saw him a second later, leaving through the front door. He happened to glance back. I thought, “Why not?”

And really, how big was the risk? What could have gone wrong? Even though it came to nothing, I still flattered the guy. (Yes, it did so happen that he was single. And straight.)

In another recent incident, I sent a fan e-mail message to the CEO of a company that offers products I enjoy and admire. Why not? I work hard at my businesses. I love feedback. Why wouldn’t she?

As a result, we scheduled coffee.

I take big risks in business every day—risks that affect financials and people and other businesses. Taking these big risks often “risks me out.” I don’t gamble, for example. I’m not tantalized by daredevilry that might bring about bodily harm.

Yet what about the minor actions that carry very little real risk that I consider doing but don’t—either out of propriety or ego or awkwardness or potential embarrassment?

I should do those things more.

What’s the last risk you took?

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Reader Comments (4)

About a month or so ago I ran out into rush hour traffic to snatch a potted plant out of harm's way.

Strange what things people consider risky.

Run out into traffic for a potted plant? no problem. Wander round a forest at night with wild animals, the chance of getting lost or breaking a leg, or falling into a fast moving stream. Doesn't sound bad. Falling off a cliff during a fight? Yes I did do that. We were 12 at the time and it was a 10 foot high cliff, but still, cliff. Didn't even stop to think about it.

Ask a stranger out? Are you mad?!?!! Risks are incalculable! I have to do more analysis on this. The auguries are unfavorable.

Ok, so maybe that's over dramatizing things and I'm not quite that terror stricken about the whole process but for me it's more a matter of choosing my battles or picking the right situation.

So why do I do all those other foolhardy things without thinking? Honestly it just doesn't seem risky. Somehow I know I will come out ok. Doesn't mean I do every dangerous thing that I see but people....people are hard to predict.

June 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Pora

You know, Will, you made me think about these risks again. Seems like the two examples I mentioned and the one you mentioned have to do with risk of social embarrassment. I'm not much of a risk taker physically--not as much as you are--but I take big risks professionally. Where I hold myself back on taking risks that I want to take (unlike physical daredevilry), but don't, are in areas where I fear I'll humiliate myself. Interesting...

June 17, 2013 | Registered CommenterLeslie Farnsworth

I think it has to do with what we are familiar with.

You are very talented professionally and you can make good assessments about risks in your business life based on your education and experience. So I think you are more comfortable taking these risks (even though technically they are qualified risks).

As for me I just make snap judgments about what is or what isn't an acceptable level of physical danger based on my previous experience....and sometimes I do it anyways.

As to the other thing I think you are correct in thinking that we fear looking foolish in front of friends and strangers. Very human reaction but something that can be overcome.

June 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Pora

I'd hope so, Will! Practice makes perfect, right? The fear of social embarrassment is strong for many of us, I'd venture, but maybe if we take the risk enough, we'll realize it isn't really a risk at all.

June 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterLeslie Farnsworth

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