By Bryan Kramer | Commentary, Featured

Follow Your Passion Even if It Requires Risk

Humans are quite risk-averse, generally. Our propensity to avoid risk when we can is built into most life processes – don’t cross the road without looking, don’t invest all your savings in that new business, don’t leave your ham sandwich on the counter when your dog is nearby.


We like to make decisions after we’ve calculated the risk-factor. Obviously, not everyone’s the same and I guess life would be very boring if no one ever took risks.

But as we get older, the reasons to take risks seem to decrease. Our lives get a bit scarier and adulty – kids, mortgages and existential dread all come into the mix and cloud us from doing what we really want.

Well, life’s short. Working day in, day out in an industry that sucks for your mental wellbeing and makes you consider hitting snooze permanently on your alarm clock every morning, isn’t fun.

Passion = Engagement

When we’re truly passionate about something, we’re more engaged. We put more of our heart into a job role or business venture when we really believe in their ethos, values, and mission. And studies show (University of Warwick) that when people are happier or more passionate in a role, they’re more productive and engaged at work.

Being more invested in the work you’re carrying out can lead to better results. Taking a risk and launching a business based on your expertise and passion, doesn’t seem as risky when you think that you’re involved because it truly means something to you. Isn’t it riskier to work in a job or field where it’s less meaningful – will you work as hard, spot mistakes or strive for results if it doesn’t interest you?

You could be in a more precarious position by playing it safe, because it a competitive economy, organizations are looking for people who care about a role.

Wahooo, I failed!

Failing is really, really scary. And annoyingly, it’s probably the biggest barrier stopping people from following their passion. It’s natural to negotiate your way through your career by trying to avoid it. This can mean not going for a promotion or reading a job description and gawking. Or it can be watching from the sidelines as some other lucky kid makes a million-dollar business out of an idea you’ve had for years.

That sucks.

Nobody ‘likes’ to fail, but accepting and welcoming the fact it’s a possibility is the first step towards making more human-centric decisions that put your happiness at the forefront.

Failure is a possible by-product of following your passion BUT it’s a possible by-product of literally every action you take too. You could try and sit on a chair and fall off, that’s failing at that task. You could forget to post a birthday card to a friend…FAIL. Following a passion is no different, but sometimes it feels like failure is a more likely, consequence.

YES, you can fail. But everyone and I mean everyone, fails sometimes and if you’re not harming anyone else in the process, you can dust yourself off and start again if you do…hopefully with your newfound rhino style thick skin.

The amount of failures behind some of the most successful historic ventures is the part that you don’t see. Every product you use has been rejected by someone. J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter was rejected multiple times by publishers before it was picked up, Colonel Sanders of KFC had his recipe reportedly rejected over 1,009 times (his whole story’s worth a read) before someone took a chance on him.

Failure is a big part of growth and using it as fuel to try a different approach, tweak what you have or move on and reach out to other people.

Get Off Your Butt

Being sedentary means that we’re not learning and growing. We never know or have experienced enough – it’s an impossibility. Sealing yourself off from exploring new opportunities means that you’re missing out on…well, you don’t know and that’s the whole point!

Intellectual and experiential curiosity makes us better humans. Most of us can never say with 100% certainty that we’ve got our sh*t figured out and we can always be building on our foundation of learning. This can help you to find your passion or confirm your passion.

After all, doing something else and realizing it’s not a good fit for your interests and experience can be just as life-affirming as finding something that is.

Keep reading, keep writing, keep talking, keep thinking, keep doing.

Final Thoughts

Risk is a word that can give you the heebie-jeebies, but without getting all ‘Instagram-motivational-quote’ on you, risk makes us grow and life’s too short to be just ‘meh’ about everything. Being ‘meh’ about your career, which we spend most of our lives in, can get really boring and miserable after a while.

Calculated risks that incorporate your passions or help you to find out your passions will let you look back and think, well you know what, I gave that whole life thing a damn good go!

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