Door Number Six: Chasing the Long Shot

“You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.” ~Paulo Coelho

In life it is often wise to take the safe bet. If given the choice, most of us would probably avoid the risky path in favor of the more stable and likely option. It’s why mountains of resources are dedicated to things like risk management. We take out insurance policies on everything from our cars to our lives. Leaving nothing to chance. I’ve already written about why stepping outside this comfort zone is necessary from time to time. However, even if you are not prepared to embark on such a journey, it is important to always have something that isn’t safe or a sure thing. Opening this door and betting on the long shot is advantageous for a number of reasons.

It provides us with a sense of hope. The problem with playing it safe all the time is it is easy to take for granted things will work out every time. Unfortunately, even actions with a high chance of success can fail. And when they do, we inevitably feel a greater sense of despair. After all, when we sacrifice the bigger prize for a smaller one out of a need for certainty, things become less about the “what if” and more about getting what we are entitled to. Inversely, when we take the big risk from time to time we allow ourselves to hope for something more. As a certain United States President demonstrated, hope can carry one a long way in life.

It teaches us to make mistakes. One of the hardest things to do is to fail. Many of us avoid doing anything that would cause us to do something wrong. This type of hyper caution prevents us from taking the big leaps that will propel us to the next level. When we decide to invest in the unlikely choice, many times we fail. Fortunately, most of these missteps are not a matter of life and death. In fact, in most cases we may come out of the situations with a few bumps and bruises but are able to carry on. Learning this instills a courage in us that will allow us to let trials and tribulations slide off our back as we focus on accomplishing the important things in our life. Like surviving the impending Zombie Apocalypse for example.

It can lead to victories beyond our wildest expectations. The great things about taking the 3720 to 1 bet is when it does payoff it is better than anything that has come before it. Often times we limit ourselves to what we perceive as possible. The problem is our perceptions are shaped by our experiences. For most of us it may be hard to fathom becoming the next President of the United States or winning the lottery. However, everyone who has ever accomplished either of these things had to take a leap of faith. Even if we can’t believe in the likelihood of the big dreams becoming a reality, it is important to take the step, because the thing about the long shot is there’s always a chance it’ll come through in the end.

While taking the risky gamble every time is probably inadvisable, every once in a while it is door that should be opened. In order to keep a dream alive we must be willing to take the chances necessary to recognize it. Even if those decisions do nothing more than teach us the wisdom in learning from our mistakes. If one continues to pursue this ultimate gamble, a victory worth all of the pitfalls and disappointments may occur. And if doesn’t, we can take confidence in the fact there was always an opportunity to defy the odds and in the future there always will be.

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