Take a Chance
There is a well-known board game called Risk, in which players attempt to conquer the world by occupying all 42 territories on the board. Each player has the same number of total armies, but they need to distribute them wisely. The strategy of the game involves choosing which armies to put where, and how many armies to risk losing in battles. You can attack another player by rolling up to 3 dice, but the more dice you attack with, the more armies you may have to remove from the board. And if you have fewer armies in a certain territory, the more likely you are to lose that territory. It’s about making decisions and taking risks, with outcomes decided literally by a roll of the dice. Life’s risks have bigger impact than losing armies in a board game, but the principle applies. If we don’t take risks, we don’t make mistakes, but we also don’t learn and grow.
Everyone should be able to have the dignity to make mistakes and learn from them. This concept, called dignity of risk, is the right to take risks when engaging in life experiences, and the right to fail in those activities. It includes the right to experience the consequences of our decisions. I once bought a stylus pen for a tablet on eBay. The list price was around $10, but I ended up paying around $30, because it was being shipped from China. A novice at buying online back then, I hadn’t looked at the shipping costs carefully, or where it would be shipping from, before making the purchase. I paid the entire cost of the stylus pen. I made the mistake, so I (literally) paid the price. Spending money is an obvious consequence, but other consequences include how we use our time and energy, what talents we develop, and how we experience the world.
It is important to learn from others’ experiences, but nothing can replace lived personal experiences. When you have made the effort to learn or experience something for yourself, you are much more likely to remember it. The process of finding answers becomes as meaningful as the answers themselves. Being taught how to find your own answers, therefore, is more valuable than someone else telling you the answers. Seeking personal experiences often feels more scary than absorbing others’ experiences, but we should do it anyway.
Learning what not to do can be just as, if not more, valuable than learning what to do. When you make mistakes, you build a catalogue of what not to do. Please note, I am not advocating for anyone to purposely make mistakes (you should always strive to do the best you can), but just know that making mistakes is not the end of the world. If you learn from your mistakes, they become valuable steppingstones to greater heights in the future.
My level of investment in the Risk board gameis quite low for many reasons, which means that, win or lose, it doesn’t matter. But, when I fully invest in a task, such as this blog post, I feel powerful and proud of the work I’m doing. When you take full ownership of your actions and their consequences, you open yourself to the possibilities – failure and hardship, or success and happiness. So, become fully invested in your life so you can learn and grow. Take some risks and see what lessons you learn along the way.