“The greater the risk, the greater the reward.” We’ve all heard this phrase, quoted by heroic individuals on the brink of a great adventure or feat, spouted as a challenge to their doubters and to bolster their own courage. The flip-side of this statement isn’t nearly as cool: “The greater the risk, the greater the consequence.” This mantra is much more in line with my slow-to-act personality, as I have a tendency to be cautious, thinking way out into the future and potentially missing out on the moment.
One critical moment when this question dominated my decisions was when I graduated from college and was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. And that’s how enormous the stakes felt: I had to decide what I wanted to do…forever. What twenty-two year old knows the answer to that question? The pressure of having just completed my education, watching my business school classmates accept jobs and start presumably successful careers, in fields and in places that didn’t sound interesting to me at all, felt overwhelming.
As a kid, I was fortunate enough to visit the Rocky Mountains on a ski trip with my family. I grew up in a smaller town in eastern North Carolina, a place that I loved, but even after all the years that passed between my short trip to Colorado, I still felt connected and called to the West. My home waited in that vast expanse, and I was never going to escape that. So I shifted my focus, and started restructuring what “success” looked like for me. This is where CoolWorks makes its quiet entrance into my origin story, and within about 15 minutes, success looked exactly like a seasonal job in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.
This is also the moment when the rewards / consequences question required an answer. What were the rewards? The opportunity to live in a National Park, a shift to living more of my life outside than inside, to live out a story that an older me would be proud to tell. What were the consequences? I wouldn’t be taking the steps to build a career in line with my education, and this felt like it could be quixotic and possibly even disappointing to the people in my life who might feel I wasn’t living up to my potential. Ultimately, the decision made itself because the reward was a chance at a life that I wanted, and the consequence was possibly missing out on a life that I didn’t.
None of us get to know the future. I didn’t know what my life was going to look like at the end of that summer, but I believed that my life in ten, twenty, thirty years had a better chance of looking the way I wanted it to if I took the risk now. Your talents, your knowledge, the best parts of who you are, they’re going to find a way to get out and be put to good use as long as you’re doing something that feels worthy of your time, wherever that may be. You just have to get yourself there.
By sharing our stories of taking the leap into a seasonal adventure, we hope to encourage and embolden others to take the plunge as well. Find inspiration from others who have gambled on themselves, or get inspired to share your story by visiting the CoolWorks Dream Big Journals.
Have something to share, or want to write a Dream Big Journal entry?
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