Lisa Kelliher No Comments

Recently, I had the pleasure of rewatching a Ted Talk, delivered by the late Sir Ken Robinson. Inspiring as always, his presentation was based around the premise that it is vital for people to embrace a risk-taking mentality when seeking to learn, so as to gain the greatest amount of personal growth. Robinson proceeds to explain that a willingness to have a go and learn from failure is an inherent quality in children. Just look at how they play! Somehow, along the way, we lose sight of this approach to risk and as we become older, we also become increasingly adverse to the possible discomfort that comes from the failure of miscalculating a risk.

Cultural attitudes toward risk vary significantly, and these differences reflect a complex interplay of tradition, history, and environment. In some cultures, risk-taking is deeply ingrained and celebrated as a means of personal and communal growth. In others, a more cautious – and perhaps even stifling – approach prevails, emphasizing safety, stability and predictability.

Striking a balance between divergent cultural attitudes is advantageous for all. A world without any risk would stifle progress and personal development, while a world without caution would invite recklessness and potential harm. As individuals, it is important that we recognize some level of risk is necessary for growth, learning, and self-discovery.

In his memoir, Into The Rip, Damien Cave writes about his observations of the different cultural approaches towards risk between his American home and the Australian beachside culture he discovered when he moved to Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs.

Through his experience of living in Sydney with his young family, Damien Cave observed an enrichment of his sense of self, his relationships with his family and an enhancement of their self–belief and self-efficacy. He reflects that this was borne both out of the discomfort and risk they embraced in joining the local Surf Life Saving Club and also from the observations they made around the normalisation of calculated risks in this quintessentially Australian cultural context.

Personal growth often occurs outside of one’s comfort zone. Stepping into the unknown, trying new experiences, and taking calculated risks can lead to increased self-confidence, adaptability, and resilience. It’s in these moments of challenge that we discover our true potential and develop a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Being prepared to sit in the discomfort of the unknown can sometimes be where our greatest growth is found.

Innovation, creativity, and breakthroughs are often the result of daring to challenge the status quo. By looking through this lens we make the realisation that risk is not a universal enemy to be eradicated but rather a vital force that drives progress, personal growth, and innovation.

Perhaps, then, one of our most valuable New Year’s Resolutions might be reflecting and internally auditing our personal and professional approaches to risk?

At Be Challenged, we specialise in working with organisations in the design and delivery of experiential programs and workshops designed to challenge participants to grow as individuals and in teams. If you would like to learn more, please get in contact here.

Thanks for reading.

Lisa Kelliher
Head of People and Culture and Educational Consultant, Be Challenged

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