Risk, what does it mean to you? In sport, life and even in business, risk is part of our adventure. It’s something that keeps us motivated and alive. It gives body and fullness to our experience but more than that, I think it’s part of why we are here. When we strip the mind and its judgments away from our direct experience, we are left with a field of awareness. At the basic felt sense we become aware of what we are as field of awareness, that is in existence to experience, and there’s very little to experience if there is no risk.
So what happens when we go into what I call safe mode? Safe mode is a term I have used in the past for athletes who attain a certain level of achievement and then plateau, at some point for some people a certain level of performance is something that they begin to try to keep safe (i.e.) instead of taking the risk to win they try to keep 4th place safe. You can apply safe mode to just about anything in life, as well as sport we could be talking about your career, your relationships with your friends, even your marriage.
We learn safe mode:
I like to watch children at play, their passion, commitment to their play, the pure natural excitement that their natural awareness provides. Where does that go as we age? People often say that it’s responsibility that causes us to lose this ability, we have to grow up. But do we grow up, or do we actually grow down? Is it actually Safe Mode that closes down our direct experience and leads to the flat boredom that so much of the working population are suffering from? Children are grounded in their direct experience until their teachers and we as their parents knock it out of them, we actually condition each other to find the safe mode and in my opinion this is part of the reason that we underperform and underlive. Yes, underlive. It’s a hard question to ask yourself, am I living the authentic life that I want for myself?
I once heard Steve Jobs say in a speech “stay hungry, stay foolish”. It hit me like a ton of bricks, how very profound I thought. In sport, in business and yes certainly in life generally –stay hungry, stay foolish. Reignite the excitement of the child that still lurks inside us all. Have you ever watched a child in a race of any sort, no thought, just unbridled risk –they don’t yet understand the meaning of safe mode, what if it didn’t exist? How different would a child’s growing experience be without us imposing our safe mode onto them? Without them having to fit our lives so they can feel safe?
Disengaging safe mode and allowing risk:
So in order for us to be able to accept some risk in our lives we need to bring back a little of the child, a little of that intense desire, a little of that unbridled passion and excitement to let ourselves off the lead a little. In safe mode we are scared to do that, what if someone sees me? This is where it’s important to look seriously at the risk, the risk is not others, it’s you! It’s your own judgments that are keeping you down, keeping you bored, unsatisfied, looking for safety but never satisfied with it, sound familiar?
In safe mode we always want to attach ourselves to someone or to something, or we want to become something to satiate our never ending need for an identity, or a destination that the train of life never pulls in to. Why do I never arrive? Does that ring a bell?
Let it go:
I once heard a dying man when asked what his most important life lesson was say-“you can’t hold onto anything”. Everything in life is moving, nothing is static but then nothing is really leaving either.
When we let go of our gripping, our efforting, our attachments, then we open up to life and risk is no longer such a risk. You don’t have to make life an identity or a destination and when you let that misinterpretation of life go, you open to natural flow that is always present, and when there is flow there is natural performance.
Because folks we are already there, we always have been and we always will be. We are life, we are experience, we are the field of awareness, the field of unbridled passion and desire, we still are the children. The risk is in the choice.