I live in Vegas, and yet I never “throw the dice”…at least not in a casino or slot machine sense. But, I do gamble every day…we all do.

To gamble is to take risky action in the hope of a desired result. Even in inaction, we are throwing the dice and taking a risk. The risk of getting caught. The risk of losing ourselves. The risk of things changing. The risk of things staying the same… So, the right question isn’t, “do you gamble?” It is, “what are you gambling?” And which risks are worthy of your willPower? To mobilize our confidence, we must become cognizant of risk.

Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit. ~e. e. cummings

Summon your inner riskologist, please.

Risk•ol•ogist (noun): A practitioner of smart risks who thrives in an uncertain world. ~Tyler Tervooren

1. RISK asking (<-> assuming). Recognize it is only in our heads that we are starring in the lead role of our personal screenplay. Our supporting actors are doing the same in their minds – playing lead. This is why when we assume that our needs, wants, aspirations are obvious to others, they often are not. And, that theory you have conjured up in your head is often far from the truth. Take the risk and ask for what you want or to simply ask why. Give space for others to respond. You might be surprised…I have been recently.

The answer is always NO if you don’t ask.” ~Stacey Lei Krauss

2. RISK bulking up (<-> driving on empty). Schedule some buffer time between meetings or appointments. Find time alone to recharge. Enjoy a meal that is neither measured nor weighed. Excessive “doing” or deprivation impairs our productivity, our creative energy, our hormonal balance. Build up your reserves with laughter, recovery, and nutrients.

3. RISK pissing off some people (<-> living someone else’s life). I don’t want my daughter to be a “mini-me”…in the sense of equating success with how closely she resembles me. I want her to explore and find herself. When we know ourselves, we live accordingly. Without a sense of shame, disloyalty, or disrespect when we don’t love everything others love. We shine for the world to see our unique brilliance at our deepest level of truth. And those who love us unconditionally will applaud that light when it shines.

4. RISK discomfort (<-> stagnation). Life out of the comfort zone is where transformation occurs. In the “La-Z-Boy”, our core muscles atrophy. In shoes, the muscles in our feet atrophy. In the mundane, our minds atrophy. So get up…kick off your shoes…and find ways to breathe new life into your body, mind, and spirit…every day.

Everyone has a ‘risk muscle.’ You keep it in shape by trying new things. If you don’t, it atrophies. Make a point of using it at least once a day. ~Roger von Oech

5. RISK the illogical (<-> ignorance). Some of my best decisions made no sense at the time…except in my gut. I began studying Japanese after Japan’s economic bubble burst… I applied to only one business school… I became a fitness instructor when it was logistically impossible for me to teach classes on a weekly basis… When we trust ourselves, we do not ignore our desires and our intuition…we listen to the small voice inside. The one that says “just go” or “yes”. We take risks that instinctively feel right.

Risk, the willingness to accept an unknown future with open hands and happy heart, is the key to the adventures of the soul. Risk stretches us to discover the rest of ourselves – our creativity, our self-sufficiency, our courage. Without risk we live in a small world of small dreams and lost possibilities.” ~Joan Chittister


6. RISK a career (<-> a job). Living just for today is the difference between having a job and a career. A career is planned, cultivated, refined, and purposeful…a job is often the opposite. With a career, you make investments. Long-term investments like continuing education, networking, a retirement savings account, a gym membership. Investments today provide future options tomorrow. Think beyond the current paycheck and invest wisely for long-term returns and longevity in your “career”.

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it. ~Pablo Picasso

7. RISK abandonment (<-> pleasing). How others respond to your success…is it the same when you fail? I have certain people in my life who rush in when they sense tragedy. I realize it is soothing to them. But, these drama kings and queens can hold us back from the life imagined. The life you imagined. Notice when you are defending or downplaying your dreams. Recognize the difference between caring criticism and a rigid code of beliefs.

8. RISK failure (<-> regret). Never knowing haunts us in our sleep. “What if I had…” “I wish I had…” Once we put failure in its proper place, we take risks more easily. Our self-worth is never impaired from failure; it is impaired from living small.

Failure enables us to take risks as we grow until we find where we really fit, where we cannot only succeed, but also enjoy the challenges of life as well.” ~Joan Chittister

9. RISK pain (<-> denial). Facing the truth can be painful, but putting off that truth in the form of denial prolongs and exacerbates the suffering. Search for the pockets of denial in your life or lifestyle…where your desperation has crept in to rationalize your behavior…where your values do not match up with your actions…or where your actions do not align with your dreams and desires.

10. RISK eye contact (<-> a fake smile). Being vulnerable is a quality that stems from trust and confidence. We admire it in others, but it scares us to express it. We can hide behind a fake smile, but we cannot fake our eyes…they are our windows to the soul. Use them effectively. Dare to create more meaningful connection. Dare to express your “crazy”. The world loves it…and, actually, needs it.

This week, think about the risks you are taking in your daily life. Which ones are conscious, deliberate, inspired, will-Power-ful? Which ones are unconscious, externally motivated, harmful…or even reckless? Only you know the answers. Trust your gut to throw the dice in the right direction.

Risk prods us on to become always the more of ourselves. It is the invitation to the casino of life.” ~ Joan Chittister

Do you want to explore RISK further? Click here for quotes, mantras and our willPower dedicated weekly exercise!

Sarah Ingmanson

Sarah Ingmanson

Sarah is a studio owner, fitness instructor and competitor. She is a former investment banker and equity research analyst with her MBA from the Wharton School and her MA in International Affairs from the Lauder Institute of the University of Pennsylvania. Sarah is fluent in Japanese and consults with Japanese companies on corporate governance, finance, and investor relations. Sarah's interest in Japan stemmed from her first tour with Disney On Ice as a professional figure skater. For more info on Sarah and her studio, visit www.starslocker.com.