When you approach any one of the monstrous cliffs at Niagra Falls in New York you will see a sign that warns you of the dangerous situation you are placing yourself in; you could, after all, fall to your instant death.
It’s not only at the beautiful Niagra Falls where you’ll find signs indicating a dangerous situation. On roads, at construction sites, and all over the globe there are large signs that announce warnings to you in bold, often bright letters. Signs proclaiming “danger!” or “warning!” can be found anywhere there is human civilization. We are, as it turns out, an animal that needs to be warned when our lives or happiness or well‒being are possibly in danger.
As a result of the countless warning signs we encounter in our lifetime, we’ve become somewhat of a risk averse society.
Yet, for every sign that we encounter which tells us of “danger!” – whether it’s a literal sign on the edge of a cliff or something nagging us in our minds when meeting someone new, making a large purchase, or interviewing for a job – how many signs do we encounter that alert us to the possibility of success? What about happiness or changing the world? Where are the signs alerting us to both sides of a risk, not just potential suffering but also happiness or success?
Unfortunately there are no blatant signs telling us when a risk is worthwhile. You would be hard pressed to find a sign that reads: “Warning! Possible injury or once‒in‒a‒lifetime‒view!”
The positives of dangerous situations are often overshadowed by the negatives. Which means it’s yourjob to figure out whether or not a risk is worth taking. You have to be the one to decide whether the warning signs and fear you experience as a result of them are entirely truthful, or if there’s another side that may not be advertised to you.
Sometimes it’s worth ignoring the posted sign. Sometimes we have to realize that the risk the warning signs alerts us to may not be the actual outcome we experience.
See the signs, head the warning, but remember that it’s okay to lean over the edge just a little bit. Fear isn’t what you should be concerned with when you see a warning sign. What you should be concerned with is what’s on the opposite side, the positive side, of the risk you’ve been warned about.
Photo by johnharveytolson.