Reflections from a Finalist: Take the Risk

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Life is full of risks.  Sure, they’re scary.

But I believe if we don’t take risks, then we’re not growing personally. We’re not developing new skills or learning new lessons.

Taking risks can be rewarding.

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Examples include:

  1. Winning a contest
  2. Making friends
  3. Discovering your talent and potential

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Taking risks can be miserable.

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Examples include:

  1. Embarrassing yourself in some horrific and/or comical way
  2. A person (or group) might not appreciate what you did
  3. You don’t win a contest

As someone who’s taken second, third and last place in a variety of situations, I offer these words of inspiration:

So what?

Looking at the pros and the cons…it’s important to note, the benefits of a risk (let’s be clear, a good risk) outweigh any of the aforementioned worries.

Take it from me, I’ve experienced outcomes both rewarding and painful and am better for it. Taking risks requires courage, humility and perseverance. Each one of those qualities is strengthened the more you try.

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When you take a risk, and it doesn’t go the way you thought…don’t wallow in sadness for too long. If your risk doesn’t yield ultimate reward, then the road splits into two paths.

Path 1: You take that experience, use it to improve yourself and keep trying.

Path 2: Curl up and do nothing.

My advice? Take Path 1.

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I knew I was taking a risky path when I chose to compete in the Toastmasters International World Championship of Public Speaking. With more than 332,000 Toastmasters around the globe, this was no small feat.

The contest requires you to write your own speech. It must be seven minutes and inspirational. You have to win first place to advance to the next contest. Each time you advance, the competition gets tougher…the stakes get higher.

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But I love writing, public speaking, and competition – so I chose to take the risk. It was an incredible experience, and one I won’t forget. This entire process required loads of writing, memorization, and dedication to make a stellar product. And in August, I became one of top 10 best public speakers in the world.

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Did I win FIRST place?

No.

Did I give it my all?

YES.

Was I proud of what I did on the World Stage?

ABSOLUTELY.

Smile After the contest ended, someone asked: “How does it feel not to win?” I looked at them and said, “I don’t know. Because I did win.”

I could see their confusion. So I added, “anyone who chooses to take the risk, wins in some way. They get better… the outcome should inspire them to try again, or work harder. I admire every person who chose to compete in this contest, because their message made a positive impact on someone who was listening and in the end, that’s the real award.”

Taking risks is wonderfully exhilarating. And for some crazy reason, the more you try…the easier it gets.

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