If you’ve never watched Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement speech to Stanford, you should probably go do that. I mean now. Right now.
(click here) And if you already have, it wouldn’t hurt to see it again. (click here)
He reminds us, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something…” Most of the great entrepreneurs and thinkers echo this in some way or another, don’t they? They encourage us to, “Take big risks in life.”
But this well intended encouragement still often makes risk seem like a heroic act. Ray Bradbury dramatically said, “You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down,” as though this is something akin to life or death; something that takes great courage and we either have it or we don’t.
But in truth, isn’t risk systemic? Is risk really some gallant choice or a mere fact of life?
I mean it’s risky to invest your money in markets but it’s equally risky to your future if you don’t. It’s risky to start your own business but is that any riskier than letting someone else make decisions about your security? And it’s certainly risky to commit to a romantic relationship because it may not work out but if you don’t commit, this ‘soulmate’ might walk out of your life forever. It’s all risky.
It’s just choices. And even deciding not to decide is a choice.
I think Emerson had a far simpler and pragmatic view, just “Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.”
So go easy on the hyperbole and just start trusting, start making some decisions, and start taking action towards what you want most of all. At the very worst, even if the universe’s answer to you is nope, at least then you know and you move along and try something else.
And if you can take the worst, then it’s worth “the risk.”