D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

2013–Applied Life Lessons On Risk

Wednesday, January 1, 2014 10:50 PM

I started 2013 with a blog post about a dream I had, one where nobody was willing to take action against some robbers at a diner. At the time I lamented how so many in the real world don’t take on more risks out of fear. At the time I was speaking from a very academic point of view – theory, but not practice. 2013 called me on that, challenging whether I really believed what I had written. I got roughed up after a hockey game trying to help defend some guys, I almost got left with a $5k bill from a guy I co-organized an event with, and we said goodbye to my father-in-law.

To Risk Doing What Is Right

My assault after the hockey game left me feeling weak, helpless, and pathetic. As a husband/father I should be able to defend my family yet I couldn’t even defend myself. I risked helping others and experienced what “no good deed goes unpunished” means. But after emotionally processing it, I realized that I’d jump in again in a heartbeat; so what do I do to change how that situation would have gone down? In this case I took up boxing and further committed to a healthier lifestyle. The lesson here is that when weaknesses are brought to light we can’t dwell and lament on them. Yes, we need to emotionally deal with having something personal exposed, but we pick ourselves up and strategize how to address it.

To Risk Trusting People

With the $5k bill story, I covered most of the legalistic do’s/don’ts on running a community event with a volunteer group in the original blog post. The risk here was in trusting people, and I got burned. What followed was a blanket application of “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me” to everyone in my life. You know what’s harder than learning how to punch someone? Learning to believe that the majority of people out there are good and aren’t out to screw you. But for us to succeed in life we need people, and we can’t pull punches when it comes to placing trust in those we endeavour with. This is still a work in progress, in part because I’ve been burned in trusting others before, but the important part is there’s progress.

To Risk…Everything

In December my father in law Larrie passed away unexpectedly. The finality of death, the sudden removal of a loved one from your world, the sobering reality of what we all become once our heart stops beating, is absolutely and violently brutal. I’m bombarded with thoughts and questions on our human existence. Death’s sting is not a fear of pain but the loss of all the beauty we have in this life. Our death doesn’t stop the world from spinning, and we live on in the memories of our loved ones for as long as they live; eventually the ripple we make in life’s river fades until there’s no trace we made any ripple at all, another tombstone nobody visits.

I was in his apartment the other day as movers took the last of his items out. Once they left it was me and his empty apartment, those thoughts and questions filling my head and mixing with the raw emotion of losing a close family member. There was also a pile of books that the movers had found in his couch drawer. I picked one up, flipped through it and I found a card. On one side it said:

“Thank You for Sharing and Caring”

and on the other was this poem:

To Risk

To laugh
Is to risk appearing the fool

To weep
Is to risk appearing the sentimental

To reach out for another
Is to risk involvement

To explore feelings
Is to risk exposing our true self

To place your ideas, your dreams, before the crowd
Is to risk loss

To love
Is to risk not being loved in return

To live
Is to risk dying

To hope
Is to risk despair

To try at all
Is to risk failure

But to risk we must
Because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing

The man, the woman, who risks nothing or does nothing
Has nothing

Larrie’s was a tough life, the oldest of a large family where he was thrust into a parental role of his siblings early on. He worked hard, and played hard – a little too hard unfortunately which caused relationship issues. Looking back at his life though, I see how he risked so much of himself to try and make things right. He wasn’t always successful and was by no means perfect (none of us are), but his life ended as a loving father, an amazing grandfather, and until her death a few months prior a doting son to his aging mother. Larrie could have given up decades ago but didn’t. He saw the value in life, the value in others, and determined that risking something was better than accepting defeat and having nothing.

I want a life filled with experiences, memories, people, joy, and happiness. I also want it based on values and morals that place value in people and our shared experience of life. This last year has taught me that attaining that will require risk, pain, and hard lessons. And that’s ok, because sometimes its the things that we encounter in life that seem so negative at first which produce the thing we want most in the end. Happy 2014, I hope its a risky one for you.


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