Have you noticed that people have a tendency to choose what is familiar (the perceived safer option) over the unknown (the perceived riskier option), regardless of how unhappy they may be with their current circumstances? How do you make decisions when faced with choosing the status quo vs. change?
I believe we are biologically predisposed to play it safe. Consider our ancestors 10,000 years ago. When a group walked out of their cave and saw grass moving in the savanna, some were curious and went to investigate. It could have been an opportunity to bring home dinner, but all too often they became dinner. When they didn’t return, the others probably thought, “They took a chance and didn’t come back. I better avoid risk and play it safe.”
This may have been a good long-term strategy in 8,000 BC, but not today. Yet we still tend to use the same rationale, experiencing fear and anxiety when faced with choices. Consider successful people you admire. Do you think they got there by playing it safe, or did they choose risk, the unknown?
Do you know the stories of bestselling authors Robert Kiyosaki and Wayne Dyer? I think you’ll be surprised by what you are about to read.
Robert Kiyosaki, the bestselling author of the Rich Dad Poor Dad series of books created a board game, Cashflow, but nobody wanted to buy it. So he wrote a book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, thinking surely the book would generate publicity and create demand for his game. He found no publishing company that wanted his book. So he self-published 1,000 copies shipped to his home. He was eventually invited to speak about his book on regional radio programs.
When asked where listeners could purchase his book he said, “Anywhere books are sold,” even though there wasn’t a single bookstore that carried it. Within one week he received calls from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and other major book stores after they were inundated with requests to buy his book, and they wanted to carry it on their store shelves.
Wayne Dyer was a college professor. A literary agent persuaded him to package his ideas into a book, which resulted in Your Erroneous Zones. Although initial sales were thin, Dyer quit his teaching job and began a publicity tour across the United States, doggedly pursuing bookstore appearances and media interviews out of the back of his station wagon, making the best-seller lists. This eventually led to national television talk show appearances including Merv Griffin, The Tonight Show, and Phil Donahue.
When Kiyosaki and Dyer were presented with options, they took the path less traveled. They did what few people do. They chose to step outside of their comfort zones, turn away from the familiar and take action. As they say, the rest is history.
What will you do the next time you are faced with choices, opportunities? Remember those who have come before you and boldly taken action. As Thoreau said, “When you advance confidently in the direction of your dreams, and endeavor to live the life that you have imagined, you will be met with a success unknown in common hours.” # #
Reprinted with permission from the author’s Action Alert April 2011.
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