The real meaning of taking chances and risks

I don’t have any magical expertise from this undertaking, but I know now the greatest goals can only be reached by taking big chances. -Hajime Tabata, Director of Final Fantasy XV

In a recent article I read online at one of my favorite sites—The Verge—I stumbled upon a piece about Final Fantasy XV. And just to mention before anything else, I am a huge FF fan! FF7 being the best of the series. Don’t argue with me on this. There is no swaying me here.

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Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to play games like I used to but I still do like to read up on what’s new and upcoming in the gaming community.

In the article, Hajime Tabata—director of FFXV—talks about the success of the recent launch of the game. He points out some of the trials and tribulations he and his team faced throughout the development process as well as what it would mean if they were unsuccessful.

To put this context in perspective, FFXV started development in 2006 and was finally released in the winter of 2016. That’s 10 years in the making! So can you imagine what thoughts these developers would have if the project they had been working on for a DECADE finally gets released to the public and FAILS?

I would literally die if I had spent that long on something only to see it flop.

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Fortunately for Hajime and his team, Final Fantasy XV went on to be the largest and most successful launch in the entire FF series.

Hajime comments that this was not a story of success, but rather, a story of achieving goals and that “the greatest goals can only be reached by taking big chances”.

And that really got me thinking.

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Ten years ago, did Hajime and his team know their project would be a blockbuster hit? Did they know that this project would even take 10 years to develop? No, of course not. There’s no way they—or anyone for that matter—could have known the outcome.

The point is they took a chance on it. A big chance. A chance that paid off and ultimately led to a successful product launch.

So what does this say about taking chances? Before I get to what I’m really trying to connect and emphasize here, there is just one more example I want to share.

Mark Zuckerberg, we all know this guy right? Creator of Facebook. 5th richest person in the world. One of the youngest billionaire entrepreneurs. Yeah, that guy. One can only fathom how he became that rich and what it took to get there. Here’s what he had to say about that.

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”

I think you can start to see a pattern. You can see this common theme of taking chances and risks—some might even call it leaps of faith—in order to achieve your goals and be successful in life. This is advice coming from the leaders themselves.

So if taking chances and risks are the secret ingredients to a successful path in life, then why aren’t more people following this advice? Why aren’t we striving to be like these leaders and be more than what we are right now? The answer is simple.

Fear.

The words “chance” and “risk” imply uncertainty and it is this idea of not knowing that people are afraid of. 

chance
noun \ˈchan(t)s\
: something that happens unpredictably without discernible human intention or observable cause
: the assumed impersonal purposeless determiner of unaccountable happenings
: the possibility of a particular outcome in an uncertain situation

risk
: possibility of loss or injury
: someone or something that relates or suggests a hazard

What if I fail? What if I make a mistake? What if it’s the wrong decision? What if? What if? What if??? These are the thoughts that are running through our minds when we hear the words “take a chance” or “take a risk”.

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These words are not something we should be afraid of, but if you’re one of those who can’t get around as to why, let me elaborate.

Replace the words “chance” and “risk” with this word instead and I promise your frame of mind will change.

That word is action.

The greatest goals can only be reached by taking action.

In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking action.

Take action. This is what these leaders really mean when they say to take chances or risks. Life is full of opportunities and every fleeting moment we wait to find out which opportunity is the right one, it will have already passed us by.

The truth is you will always have mistakes and you will always have failures. These things are inevitable. It’s how we deal with mistakes and failures when they arise that matter most.

Imagine a time when you failed at something and how you felt at that time. Probably disappointed right? It’s natural to feel like this, I get it. But some people might take their loss to an extreme and linger on feeling sorry for themselves. This gets you nowhere. You have to realize feeling disappointed is really a choice. You can choose to continue feeling bad or you can choose to understand why you failed. Understand the reason behind your failure. And from there, using this newfound knowledge, move forward along a different avenue and try again.

When we take action, we learn what works and what doesn’t exponentially faster than if we were to simply ponder and meticulously analyze the opportunities we have in front of us.

We can’t let fear of failure be what’s holding us back from taking action on opportunities that will move us closer to our goals.

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