Listening to an interview on an ESPN podcast a couple of weeks ago (I forget which one), I heard a commentator bring up an interesting point about point-after-touchdown tries which I thought made a good life lesson, too. The point was this, in a nutshell: in football, when you score a touchdown you get an “extra play” in which you can kick the ball for one point or run, throw or pass it for two points. Kicking is ridiculously easy – the success rate is 99% or something along those lines. The two point option is much tougher, with a much lower chance of success. The better result needs to be practiced when it can be practiced – so why isn’t it?
But the commentator asked this question: since the preseason games were meaningless games, why didn’t coaches use the opportunity to practice the much riskier two point option and get better at it before the real games began? Another commentator offered up this response: “nobody wants to be the first coach to do that, but if someone did, everyone would quickly follow.” He continued, “But nobody wants to fail making those two points, even in a meaningless game, because it would be embarrassing.”
Crazy, right? But why do we all do the same thing – avoid the meaningless risks?
As you move through life you’ll have a lot of opportunities to take a chance on something. Sometimes it’s something big – quitting a job, starting a business or buying a house – and sometimes it’s something that will make little difference in the long run: pitching your boss on a new idea you had or asking the beautiful wallflower to dance. Why don’t people take advantage of the small risks in life to practice their decision-making skills when they get a big chance?
It’s easy to take a risk on a small choice – don’t get the bleu-cheese burger at Houlihan’s, get the Shrimp-Ka-Bob. Don’t get a Pepsi, get an RC. These are the kind of risk-taking moments we all avoid but should take in order to advance in life. If you get an RC and hate it, fine. Go back to Pepsi. But exercising that muscle – that risk-taking muscle – will make you a better person, whether you actually take those risks or not. Taking those risks opens you open to possibilities, and possibilities are endless once you are willing to accept them.