I cherish my past as a refugee because my experience fleeing Pakistan with my family when I was just 12 years old made me the risk-taker I am today. Those days were trying and challenging, but they never crushed my spirit. I watched as my parents persevered to create a new life in America when everything was unfamiliar. I learned that I was capable of leaving everything I knew—my home, my country, my friends, and my family—and surviving. Dare I say, I can even thrive. And I've discovered along the way that the best things happen when we live boldly.
Here's some wisdom I've gained from my bold choices.
1. We are better together.
When you take risks, you need help and support from others. Sometimes you need a friend to say just the right thing to push you past fear. Or a family member to tell you "You can do this." We are interconnected and interdependent. We can be generous and help each other. Only by being supportive and empathetic can we rise together. All of our relationships are important for our growth. Appreciate every relationship and always be open to learning from others. When you live boldly, you just might inspire others to do the same.
2. Failure is an opportunity.
Failure is not final. It's the ultimate learning tool. Failure builds wisdom and hones expertise. Fail and recover fast. It was a bold choice to leave a publishing job I loved to start my own company, but it's one of the best decisions I've ever made. Becoming an entrepreneur has given me a sense of control over my own life and my future. But it hasn't always been smooth sailing.
In 2007, business was coming in and we saw growth potential. We decided to double our staff, office, and clients. Then the recession of 2008 happened, and it became apparent that it was the wrong time. Looking back, I realized my intention hadn't been right: the decision to expand was ego-based. I wanted to have a bigger company, and I convinced myself and my husband John that it was a good idea. It was actually a terrible idea and it took years to recover (financially and emotionally) from this mistake.
My company is still standing, and in many ways the work we do is better and my team is stronger for having gone through this hardship. My small team is the most cohesive group I have ever worked with because we've endured and learned from our challenges as a unit.
3. Taking risks means learning to trust your intuition.
Fear of the unknown is probably the most universal fear. When you feel afraid, take that as a sign you need to do a gut check—to make sure you're not heading into danger. But fear doesn't necessarily mean you need to redirect. It means you need to examine the source of the fear—is it coming from the world or is it coming from you?
Make time to listen to your inner voice. Tap into your instincts before you take a risk. There is so much that we already know if we just stop and listen. Our inner voice, our intuition, can be a great compass if we decide to follow. Over time I've learned to really tune into my gut and make decisions quickly. We could overthink every decision we make, but there comes a time when we just have to lead with our gut.
4. Simply giving yourself permission to be bold can keep you from getting stuck.
Sometimes when things scare us, we tell ourselves that we just aren't ready yet—even if it isn't true. There is never a "right time" to be bold. There is only right now. Boldness doesn't always feel comfortable, but that doesn't mean you aren't ready. Just take the first step to be bold. Sometimes the best research is action. Accept that not everything will go smoothly and no amount of research can change that. Sometimes the only way to move forward is to leap.
5. Regret is not inevitable.
Consider what you're giving up by letting fear win. Playing it safe actually isn't, because it puts the life you want in jeopardy. We can tell ourselves that we're keeping ourselves safe by avoiding the things that scare us. We don't realize that inaction keeps us from realizing our dreams.
What potential are you leaving untapped? Living boldly means pursuing your passion despite setbacks, despite fear. There is nothing better than living an authentic, flexible, brave, scary, passion-filled life. Create a life that makes you look forward to every day—not just weekends and vacations. This life is what you'll find on the other side of risk.Fear is the only thing that really gets in our way of living boldly. When you push through fear and make bold choices, pure exhilaration is on the other side.