Saturday, June 6, 2009

Courage-building Techniques for Risk Taking

Fear is a natural trait common to all of us. Overcoming fear, however, is a learned response and approached differently by each individual. We may initially fear the first steps we take as babies, but we have to take them in order to continue growing successfully. As we age, different fears crop up, so how you handle them and take risks are important for achieving personal and professional growth.

"Risk taking is very much a learning process," says Suzanne Green Metzger, a corporate trainer and speaker. "I compare those who don't risk to 'living impaired.' It's necessary in order to grow."

Like Metzger, many experts assert that your environment and the number of times you have risked successfully in the past affect your ability and desire to gamble.

How can you become more comfortable with risk taking? Start small, and consider these 10 courage-building techniques.

1. Understand your own strengths and weaknesses. "Our fears are as individual as we ourselves are," writes Jeannette Scollard in her book Risk to Win. "It's important not to let fear paralyze us into inactivity." Accept that risk taking is a learned skill.

2. Know what you want in your career and personal life. Concentrate on the outcomes you want rather than what you do not want.

3. Assess the risk before the undertaking. If you are a novice risk taker, start with small changes then advance. Use your comfort level to gauge the appropriateness of the risk.

4. Keep track of your successes.
Many experts assert that societal messages tend to condition our psyches to concentrate on the negatives of life. Sustaining a positive outlook, however, is necessary in overcoming fear. Acknowledge your setbacks and learn from them, but do not drown in self-doubt.

5. Demystify fear and failure. Smart risk taking means accepting that you might fail, but that you see a reasonable chance for success.

6. Visualize your success. The idea behind the method advocates the visualization of success and helps you exude confidence. Eventually your projection of a winning attitude becomes a natural part of your demeanor.

7. Be flexible to options. Prepare as much as possible for your chosen direction, but remain open to the possibility that you may need to make a detour. Focus on your objective, and then determine which option leads you there.

8. Find a support group that suits you. The right support group provides advice and helps you concentrate on your assets.

9. Give yourself a reward when you succeed, and even if you fail.
A reward helps reinforce the idea that you are facing the struggle-that in itself is a triumph.

10. Become a mentor. Some experts say that people who successfully make changes in their lives and help others do the same remain vigilant in their risk taking journey.

Terri Horvath is a freelance writer and editor, who has written many articles on self-improvement. She also enjoys studying automotive history and traveling the country's back roads. She is the co-author of Indiana Cars: A history of the automobile in Indiana. More information is available at

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