With ski racing, specifically, that meant taking the risk of leaning harder into turns, balancing at a steeper angle to the slope, and placing greater pressure on the outside ski edge – all of which increased the chance of falling. My coach explained, though, that if I wasn’t falling at least once a day in training, I wasn’t trying hard enough. Indeed, to improve at anything, we must at some point push ourselves outside our comfort zone. Body builders call it the “pain period.” Only by trying something new, struggling, learning, and then trying again do we improve our performance. It’s a simple matter of acclimating to unchartered territory.
While we tend to focus solely on building our skill sets or expanding our knowledge, the greatest advancement and learning most often comes from action, experience, and taking risk. And our regrets in life reflect this. According to Gilbert, studies show that “in the long run, people of every age and in every walk of life seem to regret not having done things much more than they regret things they did.”
Although playing it safe makes sense in some professions such as financial services and healthcare, for our own creative development, we need to focus on the last 30%. Our inhibitions have evolved to protect us, but, in many cases, they limit us. The challenge is to rebalance our nature. Ultimately, it’s the ones who barrel through the discomfort, are resilient in the face of failure, and master the last 30% of taking risk who reach the highest levels of performance.