Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘risk taking’

Lessons from Leonardo DaVinci

The famous artist, Leonardo DaVinci, lived by five principles according to author Michael Gelb in his book, “How to Think Like Leonardo DaVinci.” These principles are well worth our consideration.

Curiosity – If we question things to seek additional information and to discover the deeper ‘why’ behind the idea or situation we are attempting to create a richer context, purpose and understanding in the moment. Knowing the ‘why’ helps us make connections in our brains by creating new synapses. Basically, knowing the ‘why’ makes us smarter.

Risk Taking – when we force ourselves out of our comfort zones we expand our awareness of life. By doing so we develop greater self confidence. We experience new things and become more interesting to ourselves and others. Is it easy … no but is it necessary… absolutely!

A Deeper development of our five senses happens when we bring our total attention to a circumstance. Feeling, seeing, hearing, tasting and touching are senses that can be taken for granted on a superficial level or experienced at a much more significant level when we bring our total attention to the situation. We are able to connect with our subconscious memory and experience the full effect of the experience when we are fully present in the moment.

Chaos – predictability can be reassuring but it can also become boring. The ability to handle ambiguity tolerance allows us to ‘allow’ life to happen. It deepens our life experience. The best teachers have this critical skill. They move with the tide and do not try to force the water to remain still. Life gives us hundreds of opportunities to develop our skills of listening, waiting, observing before we decide on a particular plan to move forward. We simply need to learn to allow and relax in the knowing that all will work out as it is suppose to in life.

A mind-body balance. Life is all about learning balance. Too much of a good thing is simply that ….too much. It takes discipline to learn a personal balance in everything we do but it is possible when we realize that, ‘if it is going to be it is up to me.’ Choices can be a gift or a burden it simply depends on our attitude.

Like a kindred spirit, Leonardo DaVinci also believed that everything happens for a reason. Adopting this belief helps us to accept life and stop using the blame game on ourselves or others. It helps us live fuller, richer lives and we become fearless when thinking about the future. We know that we will survive and learn the lessons we have chosen to learn. We are personally responsible for the challenges, the lessons and the learning involved.

Living with these principles can cause us to begin seeing with the minds eye of the artist. We can become more happy, healthy and fully functioning human beings when we apply what this master has set out before us. We can sketch our canvas anyway we choose because it is simply, magnificently all up to us and “All is as it should be.”

Have a great few days!

It Takes Courage!

There have been many examples world wide of people who have demonstrated such courage in their lives and have changed the world for the better. Maya Angelou, one of these people, passed away this week. She not only changed herself but the world with her acts of courage. She said that courage is the most important virtue a person can possess because it relies on our ability to be consistent in our views of ourselves and others. It draws the line of what can be tolerated and what cannot. Deciding what constitutes our own ‘line in the sand’ involves many things especially courage.

Courage can be as simple as knowing when to speak up and when to sit down, when to lean in and when to lean back. When we think about the millions of times and events in our lives that require us to choose action or inaction it can be a bit overwhelming. What is stabling, however, is realizing that the golden thread of courage from our life experiences is woven into every fiber of our being and exists to help us know when and where to draw our own lines.

We may not all have the heady experiences of changing the world but we can change ourselves in significant ways by having the courage to grow and expand our own comfort zone and be a model to others.

Any change in our lives involves both fear and courage. Then why change, why rock the boat you might ask? When there is less meaning, security or excitement in what you are doing and you feel that tomorrow will just be a repeat of today a gentle nudge of dissatisfaction is beginning to encompass you. That’s your intuition telling you to change – to have the courage to believe in yourself and your own survival skills enough to do something about it. Muster up the courage to follow your own heart and turn the page, start the next chapter in your life. Everyone has insecurities about change. That’s called being human. It is how long we allow ourselves to stay stuck in the familiar, known as The Waiting Place, that can sap our enthusiasm for life. We have heard of people who say they wish they could do … (fill in the blank) but are waiting for the perfect time, the perfect opportunity, the perfect reason. Guess what? There is no such thing. Waiting is often just an excuse that allows the fears of the unknown, the future, to be manifested in us today. That fear keeps us locked into our familiar, maybe even predictable or restricting place in life.

How sad it would be to reflect back on our lives at 85 or so and think to ourselves, ‘If only I would have …’ Decide today to use your courage to expand your comfort zone and experience more of life. The issue may be big or small – it really doesn’t matter because each time you decide to be courageous enough to change something in your life you are putting another chit in your bucket of strength, fortitude and belief in yourself. Maybe it’s as simple as changing your route to work so you can see a new landscape, or volunteering for a non-profit or even deciding to retire after a lifetime of work. Whatever it is if you have been thinking about it, your intuition is telling you the time is right to do something.

Alan Cohen said it best, “It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new, but there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.

What can you do this week that involves change and takes courage? Do it, practice the feelings of risk (don’t worry it doesn’t last) and become stronger and more sure of yourself daily as your life expands and grows. When you become that 85 year old reflecting back on your life you can think to yourself, as a wise, knowing smile spreads across your face, ‘I didn’t just take up space, I lived life! I grabbed life by the horns and rode it for all it was worth!’ Yes, you may have a few bumps and bruises to prove it but nobody, I mean nobody, can take away the thrill of the experience and the feeling of confidence you gained on the journey.

Have a great few days!

What If Thinking

When we are very young children we are naturally self-centered. We feel that everything in the world revolves around us. After all, we are fed, changed and often entertained by the adults in our lives. We have not yet developed an extensive vocabulary or life experiences which allow us to conceptually understand events such as grief, loss, or even nuances in the behavior of others. Our abstract thinking skills take years – into late adolescence – to develop. In some people these skills, in fact, never develop for various reasons. As young children when something happens – pleasant or unpleasant – we usually internalize it as something we have caused because we are still, by nature, egocentric.

As we grow into adolescence and adulthood, sometimes the self-centered or egocentric thought pattern of early childhood continues and we may develop dysfunctional behaviors such as the ‘what if syndrome’ which can stop us from expanding our world and enjoying life.

If the ‘what if’s’ in our lives can be controlled they can cause us to analyze our choices more fully which leads to better decision making. Thinking through the possible outcomes of our choices can be healthy. If, however, we allow this type of thinking to become a syndrome which controls our lives we can become so fearful of simple everyday occurrences that we are rendered helpless – afraid of what the next moment or tomorrow may bring. Obsessing about all the possible ‘what ifs’ of an event or decision can result in panic attacks that may start to control our lives necessitating professional intervention.

We hear the word moderation so often that sometimes it loses its meaning. Yet, it is very important in this context. A little goes a long way with the ‘what if’ type of thinking. Only you – or someone you trust – can observe if you have taken the fear involved in ‘what if’ thinking to an art form level which is preventing you from truly living.

Expanding our life through sound decision making and occasional risk taking experiences will allow us to more fully enjoy our life journey. As Albert Einstein said, “A ship is always safe at the shore – but that is NOT what it is built for.”

Have a great few days!

Taking a Risk is Worth It!

Leo Buscaglia was an American author, motivational speaker, and professor at the University of Southern California for years. His lectures were televised by the PBS network. While teaching he was profoundly moved by a student’s suicide and he began talking about feelings of disconnectedness and the meaning of life. He also wrote extensively about love transcending death. Through his love of humanity he made a difference in thousands of lives. The following inspirational verse and message on risk taking was actually written by Janet Rand but something he often quoted and is worth the read.

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool,
To weep is to risk being called sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement.
To expose feelings is to risk showing your true self.
To place your ideas and dreams before the crowd is to risk being called naive.
To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure

“But risks must be taken, because the greatest risk in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing, does nothing, is nothing and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow but he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow or love. Chained by his certitude, he is a slave; he has forfeited his freedom. Only the person who risks is truly free.”

Risk taking enhances our lives and gets the blood pumping in our veins. It connects us in ways that are beyond explanation. I’m signing up – what about you?

Have a great few days!