“You only live once!” an idiom that defined an entire generation of ridiculous risk takers, from the planking challenge to the cinnamon challenge, and every other crazy endeavour in between. However, much to the chagrin of all, there is a huge misinterpretation in the phrase.
Make no mistake, I am not casting any stones, for I too am guilty of indulging in the recklessness that is thrill seeking. I got my first taste at a young age after passing by a pedestrian bridge on my bicycle and deciding “lets spice things up!”, I pushed my bicycle up one end to ride down the other – I cannot remember exactly how old I was when this happened (in the unenlightened ages before Netflix and 5G), but the scar on my left elbow is an indication of “sheer pain and suffering” followed by the euphoria of accomplishment.
My most bizarre thrill happened much later during a vacation on the island of Phuket. As part of a tourist group enjoying many delights such as MuayThai, kayaking and an elephant show, the viewers of the latter were invited to experience an “elephant massage”, lying down on your stomach whilst an elephant faux taps you on the back. As I was a more vocal viewer, I was singled out for something “special”. I was told to lie on my back and had the elephant’s foot square on my chest, little did I know the staff had slipped a banana into my shorts, and that the hungry elephant was searching for said banana (yes there is a video, yes it is hilarious).
At the time, the farthest thing from anyone’s mind was “what could go wrong”? Little did I realize that if something as insignificant as a common household insect had decided to bother said elephant, I would have been forest pizza.
That is the reality of the scary world we live in. Every comfort placed on this earth for our enjoyment can equally be a tool for our destruction, whether external (I.e. elephant massages) or internal (our own minds at work).
There is risk in everything – but we never think that far ahead for to do so would be to condemn ourselves to a life of cowering under tables, avoiding sunlight, dairy, processed foods, television death rays and gluten. How else can we think when plagued with the morose notion that the only thing promised in life is death?
However, it seems almost maniacal how one can have such a gung-ho attitude towards mortal peril, and yet exhibit a more averse, meek attitude when it comes to professional risks, like taking examinations for a professional certification, standing up to your manager or becoming your own boss. The greatest paradox lies in how most of those that tend to classify themselves as risk seeking in their promotional endeavors, such as skydiving, are quite averse when it comes to risks of their professional lives.
We view stunt related risks as being calculated, believing there to be an invisible safety net that will catch us should anything go awry, that since its public, everything will go as planned. Unfortunately, the news sites are filled with unfortunate incidents where coordinated activities such as parasailing, hot air balloon rides and scuba diving ended in tragic disaster.
Some would not think twice about jumping out of a moving car or off of a great height or going at a great speed, however they would think a dozen times before speaking up at work about a stressful situation or worse, remain silent and take the abuse for fear of the unknown of joblessness.
In business there is no safety net. Yet the calamity that can occur is contained, it is none life threatening. If an elephant steps on your stomach, that’s it. Game over. If you leave your job, you can find another one, or take some time to rediscover your passion, or even start your own business.
Things can go wrong, at any point in time. Yet, they can also go your way. You will never know until you are in neck-deep, at which point you need only roll the dice and pray you land on Mayfair (Monopoly reference).
For more on Ayman, follow him on Instagram @lordaymz. Featured image courtesy of Ayman.