[Editor's Note: This was originally published on Again Faster on March 15, 2011.]
There is a firm and immediate relationship between risk and reward: If you don’t take a risk, there will be no reward.
This lesson is easy in the abstract, and incredibly difficult when it’s your (whatever) on the line. As we accumulate rewards, in the form of jobs, cars, spouses, and real estate, we forget the dynamic that got us there, protecting, hedging, and refusing further risk. In doing so, it’s no longer rewards on the line. It’s progress.
At some point, you’ve got what you need, be it financial or fitness, and the instinct is to stop, build the fort, and wait it out. Fight this with every ounce of your being; your duty is no longer to yourself.
Once you’re reached subsistence, you stand on the brink of amazing possibility. Where once you were concerned only with personal achievement, you now possess the wherewithal to inspire, promote, and create greatness.
If you’re the best athlete in your gym, don’t stop. Push again, rock into the breech, and be an inspiration to those that would follow. Know that you’re merely a shadow of your future self, and that risking it all is the best path out of the present. Go when you’re not ready, go when it’s unlikely, go when you should fall. Those you would inspire are watching.The men and women who change the world are not blessed with exceptional insight. They merely choose to keep pushing, risking, and betting when it would be perfectly prudent to stop. They push a new denomination of poker chips into the ante, knowing that the ultimate win is not safety, but achievement.
If you’re financially secure, don’t stop. Create community, fund experiences, venture on. Money is not an end, but a resource, a means of doing more. Do not give to give; give to build, give to push forward, give to make something where there was nothing. Those you would elevate are waiting.
The relationship between risk and reward is not unidirectional. It is a loop, a mobius strip of achievement and reinvestment, going all in again and again. This system depends on courage, the nut to know that here is not the end, the wisdom to know that stopping is defeat.
Risk, and there will be reward.
Jon Gilson is the founder of Again Faster and former member of CrossFit’s Level I Seminar staff.