The Most Dangerous (& Unfounded) Risk of Attempting to Do Work You Love

Written by Scott March 19, 2013

Redefining Real Risk

“The biggest risk is doing nothing.”

After last week’s post on Creating More & Consuming Less, I noticed one very common response. It’s actually become a bit of a broken record over the past few years.

It all boils down to one word: Risk

A common response goes something like this:

“Thanks for the inspiration to get me creating things and doing work I love. But my situation is different. There’s just too much at stake to take that kind of a risk right now. I’m not some carefree single 23-year-old. I have too much to lose. Plus I don’t think I’m quite ready to start creating.”

Their excuses go on…

  • I’m too old
  • I’m too young
  • I don’t have enough experience
  • People won’t value the things I create
  • My mortgage is too high
  • I don’t have the support from the people around me
  • I have kids and a family to support
  • And on and on depending on how creative you are

The thing is these are all still excuses.

And after reading The Alchemist for the 7th time while in a jungle lodge in Northern Thailand last week (I reread it on most international trips), the topic of finding reasons to put off dreams could not be more front of my mind. In fact the name Live Your Legend was a direct result of reading the book while fly fishing in Patagonia a few years ago.

You see, the only difference between the people who do something meaningful and the ones who sit in complacency as another 20 years go by is simple.

They don’t let excuses stop them.

Living Legends find reasons for change that are more compelling than reasons to stay the same.

I don’t care how big or crazy or permanent your excuse is, I guarantee you can find someone who faced your same situation (and likely worse) and did something epic with it.

But excuses are not my main frustration (although they’re pretty high up there).

What really gets me is this idea of “Risk.”

People hear about the work we do at Live Your Legend and talk about how there’s just too much risk involved in making a change.

But what risk are they talking about?

You’re missing the point.

I’m not suggesting all of you go out and quit your job tomorrow, mortgage your home and start some brand new business, with your whole livelihood hanging on the edge.

Entrepreneurship is a great fit for some people. I happen to love it. But many aren’t cut out for the insane emotional swings and all else that comes with it. Or maybe you don’t have any interest in starting your own thing.

That’s fine.

This is not about starting your own business. For some of you it might be, but that’s not the message.

What this is about is swapping your life story from one of the victim to one of the protagonist, to the one who’s actually in charge.

This starts with recognizing you are in a bad place – with work, life, whatever. Then comes making a change.

As it turns out, in a great majority of the cases a tiny shift in your work environment – in the people you spend time with, in the skills you use or don’t use, in the passions you employ – can make a dramatic improvement in your fulfillment in what you do. Literally a 10% shift could cause 90% improvement in how you experience each work day.

Living Your Legend isn’t necessarily about huge changes. At least not in the beginning.

It’s about stopping the broken record of misery and doing something about it. About slowly becoming the hero of your own story.

It’s about deciding to learn everything you can about your life experiences and who you really are and what you really want, and then steadily pushing yourself to new levels, ever so slightly, and deciding to surround yourself with the people who make it possible.

Living Your Legend, more than anything, is about a mindset – a belief that passionate work is possible for you. And not only possible, but probable, if you commit to it.

What’s the risk in making that decision? 

Really think about that.

Maybe you quit to try something more meaningful. Maybe it doesn’t work out. It sometimes doesn’t. But it’s all learning and at the very least you can congratulate yourself on killing the victim and being proactive.

Think about what your real worst cast scenario is. For most it’s ending up back in their old job and life – right where many of you might be today. If your worst case is your current case, then what the hell do you really have to lose?

Yes, I know the timing isn’t perfect. It never is. It never will be.

So by default, that means it’s always the right time.

And I’m not asking you to quit tomorrow or take out a second mortgage to fund the new business. That’s your decision – and rarely necessary, especially at first.

What I am asking you is to do something. Anything. To get you closer to experiencing who you are, and putting a dent in the world that only you’re capable of.

That is why we must all start creating value absolutely as soon as possible.

Sure, at first others might not see a lot of value in what you offer (they never do in the beginning) — even more reason to start experimenting, learning and adjusting.

And one thing I guarantee… as soon as you start to create things, the sooner people will have a chance to appreciate what you create. The sooner they will want to pay you for your help.

More importantly, the sooner you will build the confidence that the all too commonly accepted scripted life is not a fate you have to subject yourself to. And with that confidence, everything starts to change.

And if you don’t – you will wake up in another five years, or maybe 10 or 20 and realize you are in the same discontent, perhaps miserable, place you were so many years prior.

Perish or Flourish – Nothing Stays the Same

Remember, doing nothing when in a bad situation doesn’t mean things will be the same years down the road. There is no constant. They either improve or they worsen. Imagine where you’ll be in 20 years if you do nothing. How will you feel? How disenchanted will you be?

So no, the biggest risk is not that you go out and try something and fail.

It’s not that people don’t at first value what you create. It’s not that you experiment with an idea that turns out to be the wrong one. It’s not even that you get fired or have to move out of your house.

The biggest risk is that you do nothing.

The biggest risk is waking up in 20 years and wishing you would have made a change today.

The biggest risk is not giving yourself a chance to make the impact only you can make.

The biggest risk is not doing something, it’s doing nothing.

Please – do something. Anything.

You’ll never be the same.

Wishing you love and the courage to start, from a quiet beach cove in Koh Lanta, Thailand…

-Scott

For the comments: What’s one thing you can do today to stop putting off the important and actually START? Let the momentum begin in the comments!

P.S. With all this talk about creating things and getting started, I’ve realized I want to dedicate our work at LYL even more to helping you make real-time progress in Living Your Legend. We have a fun new tool/service/product idea we’re cooking up over here that I am SO excited about. And don’t worry, it will be really inexpensive, so anyone in need will be able to get access to it.

The sole purpose of it will be to get you to start creating value for others, with a pure focus on results. I cannot wait. More coming soon!

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“It was 18 months ago when I came across Live Your Legend and it just completely blew my mind. I was living this life thinking I have to kind of just do this. Then it was like a kid on Christmas Day with my wife thinking ‘we don’t have to do this anymore.’ It was literally a life change. It opened so many doors. Thanks for everything you’re doing.”

- Simon P., Singapore