This is a Guest Post by JT DeBolt, speaker, coach and author of Flight Plan to Success.
There are few endeavors we as humans have achieved in our evolution more awesome, more liberating than that of flight. I love flying airplanes. Aside from the obvious freedom and excitement of flying, piloting an airplane can be a high risk and dangerous activity.
But despite the risks, people fly every day. They fly into the night, into foul weather … even into combat. And they do so not because they’re crazy or brash, but because they’re dedicated, courageous—and they’re prepared. They also understand that the reward of flying has an associated risk.
Life is very much the same. We dream big, and imagine the possibilities. We know there is risk involved, and yet, as achievers, we throw caution to the wind and dare to dream anyway.
As a species, we’ve slowly evolved from beings who were hard-wired to take risks–mostly out of necessity to survive–into fear-abiding creatures who will rationalize mediocrity with facts and figures about failure and the pain it causes. And we consume the fear-based bullshit that is rammed down our throats through the media and the banter around the water cooler more easily than the inner calling that was programmed in our DNA from birth; the calling to risk.
It is so much easier to say “I told you so” than to encourage someone to step outside of themselves–and perhaps away from us and our sometimes-narrow view of the world–and move closer to their greatest dreams, their true selves. So it is no wonder that taking risks has garnered a reputation of irresponsibility and foolhardiness.
Hear me when I say, I’m NOT talking about foolhardy, whimsical dabbling; I’m talking about following one’s true calling, even in the face of the potentially dire consequences often associated with stepping outside the status quo and living a live that matters.
While success requires the courage first to dream, it also requires thoughtfully planning out the mission, then executing on that plan. There is risk associated with endeavoring toward anything great: risk of failure, and the risk of losing money, position, friends and even one’s life. And while the risks involved in achieving are part of the journey, champions of life who endeavor to do great things accept and take calculated risks because they understand that those risks are a necessary part of the journey.
But perhaps the biggest risk we take is to not risk at all. When we hesitate, flounder, hold ourselves back and concede our dreams to the ‘practicality’ of life, we risk never really living the life we were meant to live.
I know this, because it nearly happened to me.
As a young kid, my eyes were constantly drawn skyward to the dreams of flying as a pilot in the United Stated Navy. It was my burning passion. And even though it was something to which I felt intrinsically drawn, several people of influence in my life thought I was not cut out for it; that I lacked the mental focus or the academic skill sets to achieve such a lofty dream.
When you are a kid, hearing from teachers, coaches, friends and family that you are ‘not good enough’ for your dream, you begin to believe it after a while. And I almost didn’t answer the call. I almost bought in to what other people wanted for me.
But instead, I decided to risk.
I joined the Navy right out of high school. I was equipped with the “I’ll show you” gene that many teenage boys have, and mine was particularly strong when it came to wanting to fly.
However, the US Navy—the very institution from whom I wanted to fly—told me I wasn’t cut out for flying. Wasn’t pilot or officer material. Wasn’t good enough. And despite applying six different times for the navy’s various programs, I was denied every time.
What do you do when the entire world tells you ‘NO’?
You risk again.
This time I left the job security and steady paychecks of the military and went to work doing menial jobs. I saved some money, took my G.I. Bill, and went back to college.
I risked everything I had left. Would I get accepted into flight school or would I get rejected this time—this final time?
I rolled the dice. The same dice you have. The same dice we all have. The dice of our dreams. The ones carved from our passions, our calling, our true purpose in life.
It is damned scary tossing those dice onto the craps table of life; watching them tumble randomly from our palm. Watching them roll to a stop. And then, with a pause that seems to last an eternity, fate enters the room. A fate we dictate–not through hopes and wishes–but through hard work and persistence.
It comes from risking, and throwing that goddamned dice until it lands where we want it.
For me, it took almost 20 years before my dice landed in Corpus Christi, Texas on a warm Friday afternoon in September of 2001, just days before the most fateful morning in our nation’s recent history. And my dice came up reading “Mission Accomplished”. For I stood on a stage in a large auditorium, one of a few dozen men and women who had survived almost two years of arduous training where nearly eighty percent of our classmates would see their dreams of flight fall short forever.
That risk—that long list of risks—finally paid off. My childhood dream of becoming a US Naval Aviator came true. My fate sealed. All because I dreamed. And planned. And schemed. And executed. And failed. And persisted.
You have everything you need right now to accomplish anything you want. It really comes down to a simple decision. And that decision most certainly will open up a series of other decision, much like the “choose-your-own-adventure” books we read as kids. And after all, isn’t that what life is: an adventure?
The greatest risk you’ll ever take is to not risk at all. You risk never achieving the dreams you hold dear, and perhaps the calling and the purpose you were placed on this planet to achieve.
Risk. Risk often. Risk now. You deserve the rewards.
Visit JT’s Website. Get Flight Plan to Success. Click HERE!