Risk and Other Four-Letter Words


There are three basic personality types that are doomed to a life of failure: victims, sustainers, and dreamers.

VICTIMS are people who focus on the past and who concern themselves with how things “should have been.” Victims feel helpless and spend much of their time blaming others for what has happened and continues to happen to them. They view themselves as pawns in the game of life, believing they have no control over their past, present, or future. They feel they are always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Usually, they are preoccupied with problems that are totally out of their control.

Victims often associate with other victims and feel they are persecuted as a group. This helps to reinforce their belief that they are absolutely right in their thinking. They often blame their parents, family, employer, mate or society for what has happened to them (or not happened to them). They believe that they will continue to have bad luck and that nothing can be done about it. In any case, it isn’t THEIR fault!

SUSTAINERS, on the other hand, are people who are so focused on their present condition that they stay right where they are. Sustainers go through life as if they were running in place. Sustainers resist change.

Their primary goals are safety and security. They seldom plan for the future, and spend most of their time fighting anything that threatens to change their immediate situation. Their major objective is to maintain the status quo. In other words, they are not inclined to rock the boat.

DREAMERS are people who plan for the future but never turn their plans into action. They prefer to live within the safety of their ideas, without taking the risks that are necessary to make things happen. As time goes on, they tend to become increasingly unhappy and disillusioned because their lives never seem to match up with their dreams.

All of these people have one thing in common: they are trapped in their present circumstances and see no way out. They are defeated by their unwillingness to RISK. Whenever an individual forgoes risk, he has generally convinced himself that he is living cautiously and that it is “better to be safe than sorry.” IS IT?

As we attempt to address this issue, you are urged to decide for yourself if anything worth having is possible without some element of risk – if life is even worth living without it.


Takers are people who feel there is never enough to go around, so the only way to have anything at all is to take if from others. They also believe in luck. But they seldom believe in risk.

Makers are people who know that if it’s ever going to happen, it’s up to them! They MAKE things happen by believing in themselves, by forging ahead, and also, by daring to risk.


Security is an interesting concept or theory because it does not exist. If you talk to anyone who has lived through a war, the Great Depression,

or even a major hurricane or earthquake, you will learn how quickly every form of comfort and security can be torn away.

Living is risky business! Being born involves a certain amount of risk. Driving a car or becoming ill is also risky. In the course of a single day, you will take any number of risks, although you may not always be aware of them. The next time you cross a street, you might give this some thought.

Where is it written that every vehicle on the road will automatically stop when the light turns red, enabling you to cross safely? As we all know, accident statistics continue to inform us that some cars run red lights. And yet we trust that everything will work out as planned. Whenever you cross the street, you assume the risk of getting to the other side. You feel reasonably secure that you will make it. But why should you, when all forms of security are an illusion? No matter how secure you think you are, there is always some way in which you can lose. Does this mean you should never cross the street? No, of course not. Nor should you allow yourself to become unduly concerned with the idea of losing, because if you do, you will end up a loser.

You will lose whatever you are afraid to lose. Whenever you become unduly concerned with loss, you automatically set yourself up to lose.

Nothing in your life will be secure until you become secure within. The only true security is the ability to actualize – to make real through action. Once we have mastered the ability actualize, we know that no matter where we are, no matter what the economic conditions, we can create what we want – as long as we truly WANT it. This is true security!

The biggest risk in life is in NOT risking. If you don’t take risks, you will never have what you want. The fact is, all desire comes with some form of risk. NO RISK – NO REWARD!


It is impossible to discuss risk without also discussing fear, since the two are so closely related. If we do not take risks, it is because we are afraid. And yet, legitimate fears have a purpose in our lives. Taking this into account, would you be inclined to say that fear is your enemy or your friend?

Let’s imagine the following scenario:

One night, while you are walking along a lonely mountain road, a huge bear suddenly leaps out into your path. As he prepares to attack, you are overwhelmed with fear, and your only thought is to survive in whatever way you can.

Fear, in this instance, is your friend. It will immediately trigger those physical responses that make it possible for you to run faster than you have every run before. A sudden powerful surge of adrenaline will come pouring into your bloodstream, and due to faster breathing, a greater oxygen supply to the muscles will enable you to do whatever you can, whatever you must, in order to escape with your life.

In this particular situation, it is not necessary for you to think about being afraid. Fear is an automatic and appropriate response to any life threatening situation. The human brain and nervous system are designed to react to the problems and challenges of everyday life – but circumstances are not always what they seem.

What if the bear is not really a bear at all? What if it is actually a practical joker outfitted in a bear costume, someone you know who thought it might be fun to give you a good scare? Why should you be afraid of a person in a bear’s costume? Ah, but you didn’t KNOW it was a costume, at least not at first. And during the those moments, your brain and nervous system reacted not to what was there, but to what you believed was there. And so it is with so many of our unfounded fears. Each day, we go along, fearful of the way we perceive things to be when, in fact, our perceptions are entirely wrong.

Why do you suppose, whenever risk is involved, most of us tend to think only in terms of loss? After all, there is also a winning side to consider here. It is the other option – the other potential outcome – and yet it is never quite as real as the possibility of loss.

The fact is, we have conditioned ourselves to experience this fear. It is not based on anything that actually exists, only on what we imagine to be true. So many of our fears are not “real bears” at all, but they are enough to keep us afraid.

If you were to ask other people what they are most afraid of, many would be unable to tell you. As you listened to their vague answers, it would soon become apparent that what most people actually fear is the unknown.


A few years ago, a friend of mine asked me to interpret a dream. To her the dream seemed like a senseless jumble of events; I thought it contained an extraordinary message! In the dream, my friend was awakened by a loud commotion. Running to the window, she saw that her favorite horse was being attacked in the corral by a “huge black

blob.” The blob was impossible to distinguish –impossible to identify as a bear, a lion, or anything at all.

Reaching into the drawer of her nightstand, my friend grabbed a gun and ran outside, determined to save her horse from this mysterious by ominous threat. She stood anxiously by, waiting for just the right moment, then raised her gun and fired. “What happened then?” I asked, whereupon my friend responded with asking of sheepish grain. “I’m glad it was only a dream,” she said, “for when I went to pull the trigger, I discovered that it wasn’t even a gun that I was holding. It was a flashlight!” “That’s very interesting,” I said. “Very interesting indeed!” “Why is it interesting?” my friend immediately asked, “It’s absurd! To begin with, I don’t even own a horse. And secondly, to be caught with a flashlight at a time when you really need a gun seems like the height of stupidity to me.” “Well, that’s one way of looking at it,” I told her. “But there’s also another way. The dream is highly symbolic in the sense that the black blobs you saw represents something ‘unknown’ to you. As you’ve already said, it was impossible to distinguish what it was that was threatening your horse. Running out into the night, you were determined to confront the unknown, but not the way so many other people might have. Rather than attempting to attack or destroy it, you were more interested in shedding some light on it.”

At that, my fiend sat back and seriously considered this interpretation of her dream. “I suppose that could be true,” she said, and based on what I already know about her, I was inclined to agree.

This was a person who possessed a basically inquisitive nature, someone who had always welcomed the challenge to learn more about whatever it was she did not understand. I had never known her to feel intimidated or threatened by the unknown. On the contrary, she had always been intrigued by it.

What about you? While I would never attempt to suggest that you should live without fear, since we already know that certain forms of fear are necessary to our survival, still, I believe it is important to put our fears in the proper perspective.

Every new environment, every new experience of life will cause you a few anxious moments. Anything unfamiliar or “unknown” may well encourage some feelings of timidity or fear. But there is something you can do about those feelings. There are ways of analyzing them, overcoming them, and/or using them to your advantage.

The first thing you should do whenever you encounter a so-called fearful situation is analyze your response. Is it an automatic response, one you quickly revert too simply out of habit? Over a period of time, has it gradually become as familiar to you as a comfortable old shoe?


“I know I shouldn’t react this way, but I just can’t help it! That’s just the way I am!”

How often have you heard someone say that? How often have you said it? What are you really saying when you say this? You are admitting that you are locked into an automatic response – that there is nothing you can do to change it. You are stuck with it!

Let us assume for the moment that job interviews have always made you exceedingly nervous and that you have an interview coming up tomorrow. Based upon your past experiences, you know that you will find it difficult to cool your heels in someone’s outer office, and by the time you are called in, you will undoubtedly be a nervous wreck. Why?

Because that’s the way it has always been.

But why do things have to be the way they have always been?

Humans, unlike other members of the animal kingdom, have the ability to control their emotions. They need never be controlled by their automatic responses, except in situations involving dire emergencies.

One way to alter your response is to concentrate on what could go right

instead of what could go wrong.

Fact: You are waiting to be interviewed for a job you are obviously capable of performing or you would not have answered the ad. Through the years, you have acquired a great deal of experience in and knowledge of your particular field. You are undoubtedly more capable than many others who have been interviewed thus far, and you are both eager and willing to do a good job. You want this job. You need this job. You are qualified to do it. So, why wouldn’t a potential employer seriously consider your application?

Based on my own experiences as an employer, I can tell you that people I did not hire were rarely turned away because they lacked professional skills. More often than not, it was some negative quality they communicated to me that made me decide against hiring them.

Perhaps they did not speak with enough confidence and authority, or did not demonstrate an adequate amount of pride in themselves. In some cases, it was even possible for me to make my decision over the phone, before I even met them personally. Does this mean I am an impulsive decision-maker? There are those who might think so, but my track record shows that I always found the most capable person to do the job.

The people I hired never were forced to admit that their knowledge or experience fell short of what I was looking for. Sensing that they were willing to learn, I was willing to teach them.


Fail. This is the third and in a series of four-letter words which need to be discussed in conjunction with risk and fear.

What’s another reason that we fear risk? Because we might fail. Do you think you can avoid failure if you choose to do nothing at all? If so, then you and I have a totally different concept of failure.

To begin with, it is important to understand that you can never fail as a person. Your job may fail, or business or some personal relationships in which you are involved. Those things can fail, but you cannot fail. You should never identify with your failures, because if you do, you will immediately lose sight of this very important fact: What you DO can fail, but YOU cannot fail as a person. The key point here is to separate who you are from what you do, because they are not the same.

There are also ways to avoid failure and you should remember them as you work toward your goals. To begin with, remember that success is a process, not something you achieve all at once.

It is wrong to give yourself seemingly impossible tasks to perform and unrealistic time frames in which to perform them. If you have never earned any great amount of money, it is doubtful that you will earn a million dollars in the next few months. Nor should that be your goal. Your goal should be to improve upon your past performance record because constant, steady progress will eventually lead you to the million dollars you seek.

If you were to talk with Olympic-gold-medal winners, they would tell you that they did not begin their winning careers by jumping the highest hurdles, by lifting the heaviest weights, or by running the longest distances. Instead, they challenged themselves a little more, and then a little more, until they finally became the world champions they are today.

Along the way, you may be sure they enjoyed each goal that they achieved. Bronze or silver medal winners do not crucify themselves over not having gained the gold. Rather, they think of what it has taken to become a bronze or silver-medal winner, of all the contestants in the entire world, who had to be eliminated, people they successfully outperformed in order to gain this fine award. To even compete in the Olympics, whether any prize is won or not, is an achievement in itself.

True athletes know this. They know it because they are true winners, constantly striving to improve, to grow, to be better than the day before. They are success oriented, not failure oriented.


Another way to avoid failure is to practice self-discipline. As a successful author, I am frequently approached by others who enjoy writing and who would like to make writing their chosen career.

They see it as an exciting, even glamorous way of life and ask the sort of questions that invite some reinforcement of that image. Unfortunately, I am rarely able to tell them what they would like to hear. On the other hand, I have no problem with telling them what is actually required. As I review some of these points, you might wish to consider how these methods could also be applied to other areas of expertise. I think you

will see that regardless of your job or profession, a little self-discipline can increase your chances for success.

  1. It is important to select and maintain certain working hours, preferably those that suit you best. It doesn’t matter what hours you choose, only that you faithfully adhere to the schedule you have established for yourself.
  2. HNever allow yourself to become discouraged when the words “just don’t come,” or you just don’t feel like writing. Write anyway! You many end up throwing most of it away, but more often than not, you will find that the effort to write removes writer’s block. If nothing else, you will write all the garbage out of your system. Then again, you may find that the part of your work that comes the hardest is also the BEST.
  3. HMake sure you spend time rewrite, cut and paste. For a while, it may seem tedious, but pride in your work will eventually take over, and soon, editing and revising will become second nature.
  4. Try to avoid interruptions – anything that will take you away from your work. This is not the time to sort through your mail, to let neighbors engage you in conversation, or to take of the trash. A luncheon date is almost certain to impede your creative flow, and the prospect of a dinner engagement will be an even greater distraction.
  5. Don’t allow others to lure you away from your work by branding you “antisocial.” If you had no interest in people, you wouldn’t spend so much of your time writing about them. Don’t feel compelled to give excuses or apologies to others. If your friends don’t understand what your work requires of you, perhaps they aren’t really your friends.
  6. Be sure you achieve your daily quota – a specific number of words or pages to be written each day. NO MATTER WHAT! These requirements may make writing seem like a tedious job, especially to those who had hoped that they could somehow escape the “everydayness” of it. Many think as creatively inspired souls, they will have greater freedom as a writer does, and that dogged determination and discipline would not be part of their life. Sorry! If you are a writer (unpublished) who would like to be an author (published), there are certain things you simply MUST do!

Re-read the self-disciplinary methods outlined above and see how many can be successfully applied to your field of endeavor. Don’t try to fool yourself into thinking there are any shortcuts, for there aren’t. Why should there be? Why should you even WANT there to be? You are a doer and an achiever! One who does not allow yourself to become immobilized by a fear of failure?


Do you believe that failure is written in the stars? Do you think that things are “fated” to happen a certain way? What things? Why?

If you allow yourself to become immobilized by such fatalistic thoughts, you will stop asking yourself such questions or any questions at all. You will lose the ability to think independently, to take charge of your life, to do anything other than to wait for the world to come crashing down around your ears.

This gloom-and-doom approach to life is totally unrealistic. It has no basis in fact; it is simply an attitude. Attitudes obscure facts. Your attitudes can cause you to exaggerate the nature of your difficulties.

The best way to resolve any problem is to put aside you’re your attitudes and exercise your logic. Attack the problem in logical stages. First you do one thing, then another, and then another. Speak to any recovered alcoholic and you will see exactly what I mean. This is a person who does not attempt to effect a permanent cure to his problem, one that will see him through the rest of his life. No, he or she wants to get through today. And then tomorrow. And then the next day.

This is the most realistic approach to any problem. You can only take care of today. Tomorrow you can take it a step farther. And so on. In this way, you can deal with your difficulty without becoming totally overwhelmed by it. The problem will remain outside you. It will never BECOME you. Here is an important thing to remember! The manner in which you deal with a problem will ultimately determine how it is resolved.

Consider a situation in which you are concerned with an overdue car payment.

Approach #1: If I don’t make my car payment soon, my car will be repossessed!

Approach #2: There is a matter concerning an upcoming bill that needs to be resolved. I will find the most practical way to handle it right now!

Approach #1 is enough to throw you into a panic! “Oh my God! What I am going to do?” is the immediate and altogether useless reaction.

What such a person usually ends up doing is nothing at all. He continues to fret and stew until the thing he has been worrying about eventually comes to pass. (Or NEVER comes to pass!)

Approach #2 places the problem at a distance. In other words, there is the problem and there is also you. You are NOT the problem, but rather the person who will eventually OVERCOME the problem. It is important to see yourself in this light, to know you have the capability to resolve your difficulties, and to remind yourself that you have successfully exercised it many times in the past. How did you get this far in life? By handling things when they came along. Given a certain set of circumstances, you objectively evaluated them, then after considering various options, decided upon a specific plan of action. This is how problems are solved. Panic and fear have no part in problem solving.

Continue to remind yourself that you are always free to accept or reject your fear of failure. Moreover, you are always in a position to use it for your own benefit.


The best way to dispel any negative thoughts or feelings is to chase them away with positive ones. Don’t try to fight your fears or anxieties. Replace them with something else!

During times of stress, have you ever had a sudden urge to escape the environment that has become so unpleasant to you? Perhaps you went up to the mountains or went down to the seashore and just sat on a rock and stared out across the water. When you did this, what happened?

Were your problems solves? No, but your negative thoughts were dispelled by positive ones. Once you allowed yourself to calm down, you began to see things in their proper perspective. You began to consider some aspects of your situation you had not considered before. You began to see some potential solutions, and soon, you found yourself immersed in some new and exciting ideas. Through it all, the only thing

that really changed was your attitude. But that was enough. It was enough to give you back confidence that you could handle the situation, and soon you were working on a solution instead of focusing on the problem.

If it is security you want, then you need to understand that your security lies in your ability to handle any situation as it happens. That is the only form of security that exists. Everything else can be taken away from you. And since everything else CAN be taken away from you, what is really at risk? Nothing. Whatever is lost is something you can regain, in the same way you achieved it in the first place.

Risk. Fear. Fail. These are the mental states of those who have not yet chosen to replace them with Challenge, Confidence, and Success. If you are presently unhappy with your life, remember that you have the ability to change it, but you must put things into perspective. Begin by seeing RISK as CHALLENGE, by overpowering FEAR with CONFIDENCE, and turning FAILURE into SUCCESS. You can do it now, just as you have already done so many other things in your life.

Dr. Robert Anthony

Dr. Robert Anthony

The works of Dr Robert Anthony are some of the best kept secrets on the Law of Attraction. Operating without the massive self-promotion and razzmatazz that so often accompanies other ‘Personal Development’ teachers, Dr Anthony has nevertheless provided a guiding direction to some of the most successful people on the planet.

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