Over the past couple of days, I attended the Oregon Food Security Summit, a two-day forum packed with thoughtful and interesting commentary from thought leaders across the state on the issues of hunger, poverty, obesity and public health. On the drive home from the event, I began to consider risk and its implications in our lives.
As a parent, I counsel caution more often than advising risk because my boys are natural risk-takers. I’ve never had to urge them to jump in the pool or into a puddle or persuade them to cartwheel across the dining room. They’re two steps ahead of me when it comes to non stop creative movement and adventure. Granted, the definition of adventure for a toddler and a preschooler isn’t exactly skydiving. It’s more along the line of learning to ride a pedalless bike or discovering that if you dig deep enough in the garden, you’re certain to find a worm.
And if you toss the egg from one hand to another to try and juggle like your grandfather, and it drops, it will smash into a gooey mess on the floor.
But as much as I’m constantly telling them to be careful, I’m secretly proud that my boys are brave and eager to take big leaps with little trepidation. They risk making mistakes and they risk getting hurt, and their tears and bruised knees suggest that both happen frequently. My challenge is to help guide the risk-taking such that they experience those mistakes and sometimes get hurt, but find joy and get stronger and wiser in the process.
As they get older, they’ll find opportunity for risk-taking in everything they do.
Risk in business.
Risk in personal choice.
Risk at work.
Risk in relationships.
I do not live a very risk-filled life these days. It rains a lot where I live which gets old. I went running this morning, however, during a brief dry spell. It was a rather boring, gentle 30 minute run in the neighborhood. My mind wandered toward the subject of risk, which according to Wikipedia, is defined as: Risk is the potential that a chosen action or activity (including the choice of inaction) will lead to a loss (an undesirable outcome). I am not seeking to bring risk into my life right now, but I do like to daydream while I run. This morning’s dreams included becoming a gypsy and tramping around a city I’ve never visisted before, learning trapeze, and rock climbing. All of these endeavors, ahem, involve a certain element of risk.
So after my run, I opted to pursue the most realistic of the dreams and persuaded everyone to go bouldering in a gym not too far away. My oldest took immediately to the climbing wall, and climbed for over an hour before taking a break. My youngest was too little to climb but ran around on the bouncy floor and practiced balancing on a tight rope with great joy. It was an active morning, and after lunch everyone took a nap (except me).
I admire risk-takers. Returning to the event that prompted my thoughts on the subject, I’ll just say that there are amazing and passionate people in my state taking great personal and professional risk to ensure that the poorest and hungriest in our community have a chance to lead a healthier life. Their energy and comitment to doing what is right is something I took away from the event, and will bring to my work as I return to my sometimes dreary office in the rain on Monday.