Have you seen the new TV show, hosted by Howie Mandel, called Deal or No Deal?

The show’s premise is this: 26 numbered briefcases, each containing a representation of a different amount of money ranging from $.01 to $1,000,000 are brought to a contestant, who must choose one case in the hope that it contains the $1,000,000 for them to take home. The contestant then begins opening the remaining cases, in an attempt to determine if the one chosen actually contains a big prize.

At certain points along the way, the show's Banker offers the contestant money in an attempt to "buy back" the selected case for less money than it potentially contains. The longer the show goes on, without revealing the larger dollar amounts, the higher the chances that one of them is in the contestant's case, requiring the contestant to turn down ever higher amounts of money in an effort to win the most money and see the game through.

This show is the ultimate test of risk analysis, courage and self-control, as contestants make some of the hardest (and often most emotional) decisions they've faced in a while... maybe ever!

It becomes more and more difficult to say "no" to the Banker's guaranteed monetary offer (often more money than they earn in an entire year) and remain on the show to try to get the offers to go even higher and possibly end up with $1,000,000.

In this game, it is crystal clear that taking risks is necessary in order to even have a shot at the big prize. Without properly analyzing the chances of having a larger amount of money in the selected case than the amount offered by the Banker, a contestant could go home with very little money - or virtually nothing.

Although it's not as obvious or short-term, the same concept is true in life. Opportunities appear before us all the time, but we're often so frightened by the risks involved in even getting a shot at them that we refuse to recognize or take advantage of them. We push them away in very creative ways, dreaming up excuses as to why we don't see, or don't take, these opportunities. If we don't see the opportunities, we don't have to put ourselves through the stress of making the hard decisions involved in trying to capitalize on them...

...unfortunately, we also don't experience the joy of achieving anything we previously thought impossible for us. Refusing to capitalize on opportunities does not mean they don't come our way; it simply means that we don't see the positive possibilities that accompany them, instead focusing solely on the potential negatives that could occur.

To get an idea of why we focus on the negative, we need only look to the dictionary's definition of "risk": 1) a chance of injury, damage or loss; 2) a dangerous chance; 3) a hazard. With so many negative definitions of risk floating around, is it any wonder that we avoid risk at all costs in our adult lives? But think about it: if risk is just a CHANCE of injury, damage or loss, this must mean there's also a CHANCE of something else - something positive and wonderful - coming from taking a risk. We must start focusing on the fact that there are two sides to risk - a negative and a positive. To deny the possibility of one is simply to limit ourselves to the possibility of failure as our only option.

Risk is not something to be avoided at all costs. It's to be evaluated, and if the risk-to-reward ratio is high enough on the side of the reward, the risk should be taken; if the reward is important enough to you, it will be taken. You must determine how important the rewards are to you; then take action to analyze the level of risk, minimize its potential for negative consequences, make plans and contingency plans for the unexpected, and take reasonable and appropriate risks to achieve your dreams.

Let's take a few further lessons from "Deal or No Deal", as we examine how contestants muster the courage necessary to proceed forward in the face of fear and uncertainty:

1. They make a definitive decision to go for the risk;
2. They take action by auditioning for the show;
3. They surround themselves with loved ones who support and advise them all along the way;
4. They make decisions at every step, analyzing each occurrence, being flexible in order to make the best decision possible; and
5. They accept whatever the outcome is - and go on - being thankful for the chance to have won something big (whether or not they were successful in achieving that goal).

Remember these words from Andre Gide: One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.

Taking risks is no guarantee that we'll achieve what we're after... however, NOT taking risks does guarantee that we won't. Win or lose, I still believe it's much better to have risked (appropriately) and lost than never to have risked at all...

What about you?

Author's Bio: 

National speaker, trainer and author Sandy Geroux is an award-winning salesperson who helps others achieve breakthrough performance through her programs on effective risk-taking, goal-setting and achievement, sales and customer service. Visit her on the web at http://www.sandygeroux.com or e-mail her at sandyg@sandygeroux.com