width=300Usually, the difference between success and failure is attempt! Courage is more important than ability, faith is more powerful than experience, and action produces far more than knowledge. Ironically, the majority of our daily actions require taking a risk; in fact, progress and risk are synonymous. Thus, we must not only develop the ability to take calculated risks, decide confidently, and act quickly, but to also realize that avoiding failures, listening to fears and doubts, practicing idleness, and being content with mediocrity is just as risky. As Niccolo Machiavelli perfectly stated, we need to make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth, [and to] develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer.

What are your goals and dreams in life? Would achieving them require you to take a risk? What is it that prevents you from taking that risk? The answer to such a question is different and personal for everyone; but undoubtedly, the answer falls under one of these categories: lack of belief in yourself, unwillingness to put in the necessary work required, scared of the 'what if' or what could go wrong, afraid that you possibly might fail, spend too much time listening to the voices of fear and doubt, inaction or procrastination, worried about what others will think, dwelling upon past failures, etc.

I completely understand such thoughts and reasoning, because we ALL experience these same fears, reservations, and doubts. However, I also hope you will never forget that those individuals who are willing to make mistakes and potentially fail are also those who will ultimately succeed. And never forget that success is not the opposite of failure, success is the result of many failures by those who were willing to continually attempt. Thus, taking a risk does not necessarily mean that success will automatically result - taking that risk is simply the first difficult task required on the journey to success, and that journey may require several risks being taken, possibly could be interrupted by various failures, and will certainly need to be accompanied by continual daily action.

As you ponder on what your goals and dreams are, and what is required to achieve them, never forget these four principles:

1) Being Average is Risky: Never fall victim to using these four words, or accepting and living their definition: security, content, average, and good. The enemy of great is good. The opposite of full potential is average. Being content is being willing to fail. And the desire for security is a dangerous mentality that is one of the leading reasons why success, goals, and dreams are so rarely realized.

2) 'I Wish I Would Have': Have you ever been guilty of saying this unfortunate phrase? How often people look back in regret and say 'I wish I would have': bought that property, started that business, pursued that dream, made that investment, kept practicing that talent, mended that relationship, not given up on that goal, etc. Commit now to never again say 'I wish I would have' and be willing to take risks, decide confidently, obtain the necessary knowledge, learn from failure, and persist in continual action. Wise was John Whittier when he poetically wrote: for of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: 'it might have been.'

3) Comfort Zone Dangers: The moment you become complaisant or content and are unwilling to leave your comfort zone is the moment that success becomes much more difficult to obtain.

4) The Risk of the Majority: There are times when being on the side of the majority is the right place/side to be. However, if in pursuit of your dream or goal, you find yourself thinking and acting like the majority, recognize that you are not in very good company. The majority of people are unwilling to take risks, are content with mediocrity, don't realize that failures allow us to learn, forget that persistence is more important than talent, think that success comes only if you have the money or time or knowledge, prefer procrastination and are unwilling to put in the work necessary to achieve their goals, and they spend too much time listening to the voices of fear and doubt that are in all of our minds. Be different - take the risk and do not follow or listen to the majority.

Taking a risk does not necessarily need to be risky. There is a difference between calculated risks and uneducated guesses. Having said that, every risk taken does require faith, temporary defeat and failure may be inevitable, continual work will certainly be required, time and money may be lost, and security might even be jeopardized. Never forget though that desire combined with belief, dreams combined with action, risks combined with knowledge, and failures combined with persistence will ultimately result in success. The great poet Robert Frost so perfectly summed up this true principle, and also revealed the reward when he penned: two roads diverged in a wood, and I ... I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.