This past week, my family and I went on vacation to Chamonix, France. Once there, we were in awe of the mountain scenery, the food and, of course, the skiing. But, the other thing that quickly caught my eye was the many paragliders soaring like birds high above the valley and mountain tops. As I watched them, I kept hearing the advice of Peter Finn (CEO of Finn Partners, Small Army’s new parent company), “Take Risks.” He probably didn’t intend those words as a message for the CEO of his latest acquisition to jump off a cliff, but I left it open for interpretation and decided to do so.
While my family thought I was crazy, I signed up for an hour flight with Martin, a 9-year paragliding veteran and award-winning competitor in the sport. We met at the bottom of Mont Blanc and, on the gondola to the take-off point, he assured me that the conditions were perfect, we would be completely safe, and I would not be scared once in the air.
Of course, I was petrified while preparing for flight. But once we were in the air, I felt an immediate sense of calm and amazement (I was literally flying in the middle of Chamonix Valley!). No engines were blaring while we flew with the birds and enjoyed the views of the valley, the majestic mountains and snow-covered peaks. I even got to take control of the steering for a bit. And, the paragliding acrobatics (which Martin captured on video here), were more of an adrenaline rush than a fearful moment. I am so glad I took the risk, and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.
I share this story not only to share my adventure with you, but to also share some considerations for taking risks:
- Taking risks requires stepping out your comfort zone (not necessarily off a cliff). To experience new adventures, you must go where you’ve never been before. And, often times, that can be a bit uncomfortable. Just do it.
- There are many ways to make risks less risky. In some cases, taking risks requires going where no one has gone before. In those cases, do your homework and tread carefully. In others cases, you can leverage the experience of those who went before you. While paragliding may seem risky, going with someone who has been doing it competitively for 9 years (and is still alive to talk about it), definitely reduced the risk quite a bit for me.
- Every risk is an opportunity to learn and experience something new. With every risk, comes the potential for “failure.” But they also come with the opportunity to learn. Rather than focusing on failure, I focused on all of the positives of the adventure, and what I would walk away with afterward (including this blog post).
- Taking risks is fun. With each risk we take, our life experiences grow richer. Admittedly, I was a it frightened to do the acrobatics, and opted against a second go at it. But, I am glad I did it as it is an experience I will surely never forget.
- We should never stop taking risks. We only live once. Every day is an adventure and life is what we make of it. Often times, life (and business) require taking risks to get to a better place and make a meaningful impact. Never stop doing so.
After reading this post, you may not decide to paraglide. However, I hope that it encourages you to be more open to taking risks. You will certainly be glad you did.
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