25 May 2018Last updated


Are you afraid of taking risks?

If people didn’t take risks, we’d still think the Earth was flat. Face up to your fears and put yourself out there with these insights from personal success coach Donna Needs

By Donna Needs
30 Jun 2013 | 12:21 pm
  • Source:Getty Images

“People’s ability to take risks is linked to their resilience. This is because to take risks, you need to be resilient. And to be resilient – to build your resilience up and to be able to trust it – you need to take risks.

“The way I define resilience is having the ability to pick yourself up when you’ve been knocked down. It’s about being able to bounce back from difficult experiences to continue growing and evolving – like a plant that looks dead but springs back to life when the rain comes.

“Another thing about resilience is that it’s a matter of choice. Are we going to lay down and die when things aren’t going well, or are we going to stand up and do something about it?

“It’s just as important in business as it is in your personal life... in order to be a leader, you have to be resilient. If you
look at Richard Branson, for example, he hasn’t succeeded in every project he’s ever started, and yet he focuses on the positives. It takes an incredible amount of strength to take
risks and to bounce back when they go wrong.

“Then you have the people who are scared of taking risks. They live small lives that have no opportunity of expanding, developing or evolving, because they are afraid to push the boundaries and step outside their comfort zone in case they fail. If this sounds like you, remember that it’s not always a bad thing to fall apart and build ourselves back up again.

“In order to start taking risks, first identify whether you suffer from a victim mentality. Do you blame others, or circumstances, for your failures? You can only be truly resilient when you own up to the part you have played and take responsibility for your failures as well as your successes.

“Understand that you always have a choice. If an opportunity presents itself and you do nothing, that is your choice. If you decide to take the chance and then, when you fail, you decide to give up, that is your choice. If you fail and yet decide to carry on, that is your choice.

“Another way of looking at your ability to take risks is whether you can allow yourself to be vulnerable. Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, stresses the importance of vulnerability. She says that if we are always playing it safe, we can’t have intimate relationships, which we need to grow. She believes we are hardwired to connect with others – that we are social beings who cannot do life alone.

“Part of being resilient is recognising this and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to being hurt... out of this vulnerability comes courage, creativity and innovation.

“Similarly, another great coaching sage, Henry Kinsey-House, recommends letting your heart be shattered time and time again. And each time, picking up the pieces and moving on. Like Brown, he believes that falling apart is a necessary experience that helps us to grow and develop towards our full potential.

“As a coach myself, I encourage clients to take calculated risks and I help them anticipate the consequences of their actions as much as possible. We can’t grow as a person unless we take risks – some of them small, some of them big.

“When a client experiences a loss, or a failure, as a result of taking a risk, I help them express the emotions they are experiencing... it’s important not to step over these intense feelings, or brush them under the carpet. We need to experience what those emotions feel like in order to learn from them.

“When we push down emotions and don’t deal with them, they can come back in the form of suffering or disease. Once you’ve identified the emotions you are experiencing, look at the lessons they offer. Acknowledge your gifts, successes and strengths and congratulate yourself on the incredible courage it took to take that risk. Challenge yourself to take action, or if you aren’t ready for that yet, ask yourself some hard questions which will cause you to ponder the situation and deepen the learning.”

Inside Info

Donna Needs is a personal success coach at Whitehorse Consulting. Visit

By Donna Needs

By Donna Needs