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New year, new risks: Why people who roll the dice succeed the most

Back in 2012, in an interview with Chris Anderson of Wired magazine, inventor, engineer, and investor, Elon Musk, made a statement in regards to his Mars ambitions that ended up translating to values beyond space.

As he explained to the magazine, his plan on converting Russian Cold War missiles to interplanetary rockets was in it’s final stages when he realized the reason mankind hasn’t reached Mars yet is not due to lack of ambition, but because of lack of resources.

Initially he wanted to buy three intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) for $21 million but but when time came for the purchase, the Russians claimed that they wanted $21 million for each rocket. Needless to say, he ended up building his own.

Here a snippet of the 2012 interview.

Anderson: “I’ve heard that the attitude is essentially that you can’t fly a component that hasn’t already flown.”

Musk: “Right, which is obviously a catch-22, right? There should be a Groucho Marx joke about that. So, yeah, there’s a tremendous bias against taking risks. Everyone is trying to optimize their ass-covering.

Elon Musk may not have successfully found any lifeforms on Mars as of yet, but his fearless approach is the first step to ensuring that he does. It’s a testament not only to having faith in your own vision, but the importance in taking risks.

If scientists and space programs that shared Musk’s capital gambled on ‘the dream’ more often, in his mind, the reality of pioneering Mars would come a lot sooner.

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What’s more interesting about Musk’s statement, however, is how it applies to anyone chasing a dream.

If our ass-covering to risk ratio is in favor of playing it safe, can we really be upset at the dreams that don’t materialize? Whether we’d like to admit it or not, this ‘bias to taking risk’ Musk is talking about is, if even a little, is a part of us all.

But it’s when we fail to recognize it in ourselves and deal with it that it becomes the most detrimental.

Death to Comfort

A sure sign that you’re not taking enough risks is your comfort level. You can’t be comfortable and pushing yourself at the same time; and if you’re not pushing yourself, it means you’re not chasing it as hard as you can.

When Dave Chappelle walked away from $50 Million in 2005, people though the he was so crazy that they accused him of smoking crack. Word?

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The network, Comedy Central, is comfortable. That contract extension would have been comfortable. His success was already solidified; all he had to to was kick back and be… comfortable.

Over a decade later and Chappelle has four specials on Netflix making what Comedy Central was offering and then some.

You see, when it comes to taking risk all that matters is the inclination that led you take it in the first place. The aftermath, no matter what it may be, is worth the peace of mind that comes with it.

Freedom of Failure

The more you take the risk, the sooner you realize failure isn’t the end of the world. Our most imaginative fears pale in comparison to what the worst-case scenario ends up actually being, but it’s something we never discover if we don’t take that leap.

There are podcasters, stand-up comedians, and future label owners who are sitting on their hands simply because they fear the unknown.

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The lack of experience, knowledge or whichever deficiency we think takes to go forward is nothing more than the feat of failure. Once you understand that falling on your face won’t kill you, you’ll fearlessly pursue your wildest ambitions.

Next time you’re feeling frustrated make a list of educated risks to take. Whether that be finally emailing a big connection, launching your own business, or an investment toward your dream, just do it! It’s better to fail forward then to stay still.

Maybe the big breakthrough we’re looking for is behind that one risk.