After the last blog post ran, a blog-reader sent me an interesting email. She asked me if I had become brave because I was risk tolerant or if risk-tolerance leads to bravery. Or was there a connection at all?
I hadn’t given that much thought, but it was interesting. When I was younger, I was highly risk-averse. I planned things down to the last detail and got upset if anything went differently, let alone wrong. Events had to run the pre-planned way. No change was too trivial to hate.
Part of my life plan was to marry someone to take care of me, and let me be an artist with responsibility only to my art. Yeah, I know, what was I thinking? Well, that didn’t turn out exactly the way I planned. Or anywhere remotely close. There was the night I drove into the unknown future with my toddler son and whatever I could take from the house, leaving behind possessions, money, furniture, clothing. VW bugs aren’t that big, but if it didn’t fit that night, it was not in my life anymore.
Later, I wanted jobs that valued me for what I could offer. Jobs with great security and no risk. Instead, I made a living as a writer, starting in an ad agency. That’s the poster-image for no security, no respect, and having others take credit for your ideas. But it built character. Or persistence. Then I worked at a newspaper, also not known as a breeding ground for security, praise and recognition.
On the day I asked for a raise, my boss told me that he has the resumes of 15 people who would take the job for less than I was making. He’d asked. Then he asked if I still wanted a raise. I said “yes.” Risk-tolerance seems to rise with short tolerance for idiots of every stripe.
Sometimes, when I look back over my life, over events that I had to manage, handle, deal with, but could not avoid, well, I’m amazed that I never realized how risk was a huge part of my life.
It helps to grow risk-tolerance if you have big dreams or have a cause to be brave. I was a single mother at a very young age. My goal was always to give my child a decent life. The jobs I chose, the relationships I abandoned, have always managed to contribute something, to steer me in a direction that was rough and uneven, but taught me something.
You don’t have to like risk to take it. Generally, you can see something sparkling in the distance, and you want it more than whatever exists now. And being brave is not always a throw-yourself-on-the-hand-grenade act. Sometimes it’s just being tired of what you are standing in now.
–Quinn McDonald still has little tolerance for dolts.
Note: The blog sign-up problem has been solved. Some of you may get notifications on an old email address. In order to make both the RSS feed and the email feed work, a whole new program (Mail Chimp) had to be installed. Again, I apologize, but this fix should be the one that works.