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Facing Risk

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Facing Risk: Every Choice is a Risk—Except the Right One

By Tama Kieves:

(This piece is excerpted and adapted from Thriving Through Uncertainty.)

Your spirit craves growth and growth comes from taking risks. The right risk will offer you more security than holding on to “the devil you know.” Because if that “devil you know” is draining the love out of you, you will meet a devil you don’t want to know.

Here’s a question I’m often asked: “What do you do when you’re trying to choose between the familiar and ‘safe’ versus the unknown and unpredictable?” How can you feel secure when you have to take a risk? I’d say forget about your idea of what’s “safe.” Choose a life of meaning. Because perhaps you’ve noticed, life is transitory.

Meaning is the only security in town. And sometimes finding love or even the hope of love or meaning, requires you to move, voluntarily, further into uncertainty.

Where did we get the idea that life was supposed to be safe?

What joy of significance has ever been safe? Giving birth to a child? Taking a road trip? Kissing that dark rogue stranger? Funding a grassroots venture to benefit the world?

There is no risk-free life. Staying inside in your bed is a risk. Taking the bus is a risk. Staying in a marriage or job that crushes your soul, though isn’t “that bad” is a risk. There is no opting out of
taking risks in this lifetime. You only get to choose which risk you’ll take.

And my best rocket-fuel expert tip here? Or at least the one at the tip of my tongue?

Bet on the sure thing. Bet on love.

Spend your chits on faith. Take the road that makes you stronger. Going after things you want, whether or not you get them, makes you stronger.

A life of thriving requires us to choose between the “illusion of safety” and the ultimate safety.

The ultimate safety is the life that calls you. Sometimes, you don’t even know what you feel drawn to do. Sometimes, you only have exhausting questions. Well, then start here: begin to move away from whatever steals your spirit.

Let me tell you a story about walking in the direction that seemed more immediately uncomfortable. It wasn’t an easy choice. But I’m a logical girl, and choosing life is always the right answer.

Many years ago, I went hiking with a long-haired poetic boyfriend, somewhere in the wilds of Oregon. We scampered along the trail for hours, in the cool green of the forest. Then, we practically fell to our knees and sang the gospel, upon seeing the Pacific Ocean at the end of the trail. This is what happens when you live in land-locked Colorado. At the first sight of a body of water, you act like puppies. Giddy as we were, we ignored the time. The sun gradually evaporated from the sky. It was a time of year that turned very cold once the sun set.

Just like that, we realized we were in danger.

We’d both dressed lightly in shorts and tee shirts. We hadn’t intended to hike this far. We had no camping supplies, jackets, pants or milk chocolate, so, really, I couldn’t see how we were going to survive. The moment we saw that draining sun, we started high tailing it back to the car.

The light grew dimmer. We walked faster. My lawyer brain kicked in seeing possible liabilities everywhere, which is oh so helpful, when your heart is already pounding so fast you know the vultures are already taking dibs on your body and choosing a wine. Then halfway out of the forest, we heard an unusual knocking noise. Something didn’t feel right. Something didn’t feel right at all.

The creepy, unsettling noise continued. “Maybe it’s a moose,” said Kir eagerly, looking around. He was one of those people that thought seeing wildlife was a good thing. He stopped and dawdled. Type A to the core, I power-walked up ahead and peered into the trees. I saw darkness behind them, almost a blackness. Then in the hideous slow motion of terror, I realized that the darkness was not some nice woodsy, amorphous darkness, but rather a shape peering at me, the shape of a bear.

Now, for the record, I am not the type of woman that looks at a bear in fascination, even at a zoo. I grew up in Brooklyn, New York. On my best day, I am way more comfortable pressed up against a thousand sweaty strangers in a subway car, than witnessing firsthand actual wildlife in a forest.

I instinctively walked backwards on the trail cautiously, like a cartoon character. “It’s a bear,” I said to Kir, terror and adrenaline lighting up my senses. “It’s a goddamn bear.” As though there were any other kind.

We started realizing the horrible Zen predicament of it all. We had to walk back past the bear to get out of the woods.

We had to walk in the direction of our fears.

Because it just so happened, as it always seems to do, that the direction of our fears was also the direction of our freedom. If we walked the other way, nightfall would set in, bringing its wet ocean breath of cold and death by hypothermia. We were already beginning to shiver.

I imagined being mauled. Hypothermia sounded nice, just going numb forever. But avoiding the risk of the bear—meant we were facing the guarantee of a slow, insidious death.

Believe me the symbolic choice here was not lost on me. At the time, I had only recently left my 900 hour a week legal career to dare my “crazy” dreams of becoming a writer. I chose the terror of choosing a creative, unpredictable, alive life. My job had been “safe” in cliché worldly terms. But I knew I had not one shred of hope of living my true life while there. I was unequivocally dying every single day. It wasn’t imminent, savage death. But it was certain death.

It hit me then that I would have to walk in the direction of uncertainty and fear.

I would have to walk towards the bear. If I walked by the bear, I might make it to total freedom. It held the only possibility of what I really wanted. I’d at least have a chance at life.

So, yeah, the fact that I’m writing this is a spoiler alert. I lived. There were French fries in the end.

I suggest you walk by your bear.

What action or direction calls to you right now, but might leave you bare or unprotected? Where do you have the best chance of at least moving towards something you desire? A preference for certainty costs too much. There are no guarantees in anything. But love will find you when you go in the right direction. And love is safety.

The right direction can take a while. It’s worth it. It’s the right direction. A sense of integrity is a security all its own; it feels solid to know you are walking your truth. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t as convenient as Amazon shipping, as few things really are. You don’t need to have sound bites or even words yet to describe what you’re doing; Maybe you don’t even know.

Maybe you are crawling away from certain soul death. That’s all you need to know. It’s worth anything to be moving in the direction of your true possibilities, desires, or growth. This is the purpose of life. And only you can make this sloppy, dangerous, awe-inspired choice.

Pulitzer Prize winning author Norman Mailer put it this way: “Every moment of one’s existence, one is growing into more or retreating into less. One is always living a little more or dying a little


Here's my Coaching Practice for you this month:

What’s your bear right now? How might you be called to walk toward your fear instead of away from it?

(Quick… email us tell me your first thoughts or intentions for yourself this month.  Sharing IS strengthening! I will hold it with you in love.)

With love and fierce support,

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© 2024 Tama Kieves. All rights reserved. 
TAMA: Honors graduate of Harvard Law School turned mojo career catalyst.
Best-selling author of 
This Time I Dance!: Creating the Work You LoveInspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work!A Year Without Fear: 365 Days of Magnificence, and also Thriving Through Uncertainty.

IT’S THIS SATURDAY! (+ it’s recorded!) Do you feel that tug of excitement to write? Do you feel CALLED to Write That Book Now? Join me for an immersive 2.5-hour Master Class on April 27 to help you write the most remarkable book possible… following your own inspired path. Take this opportunity to be the messenger you were born to be. It also includes 3 Free Months of The Inspired & Unstoppable Life Tribe!
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Join me for a Weekend Retreat July 19-21 @ OMEGA INSTITUTE, NEW YORK!

Get Out of Your House and Into a Miraculous Experience! Join me for an intimate LIVE WEEKEND RETREAT in upstate New York, just 90 minutes from NYC! It’s time to find your own extraordinary path—through anything.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend a weekend with me in a beautiful place, with amazing people – igniting a radical sense of self-love that will help you overcome any uncertainty or fear. Connect to your true strength and powerful direction. Meals included. Join us in walker’s paradise of trails and flowers.
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April 23 | Tuesdays @ 8 pm ET + recorded
You can still join us Tuesdays through May 28
OPENING TO NEW DIRECTION with A Course in Miracles
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April 24 | Wednesday @ 8 pm ET + recorded
The Inspired & Unstoppable Life Tribe
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April 27 | Saturday @ 1 pm ET + recorded
CALLED: Write That Book Now!
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May 3 | Friday in Atlanta, GA
Atlanta Writer’s Conference: 3 Workshops
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May 4-6 | in Atlanta, GA
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May 5 | Sunday @ 11:15 am ET at Unity North Atlanta
Live Free Talk at Celebration Service
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May 5 | Sunday @ 1:30 pm ET at Unity North Atlanta
Workshop: Thriving through Uncertainty 
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May 8 | Wednesday @ 8 pm ET + recorded
The Inspired & Unstoppable Life Tribe
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July 19-21 | Weekend Retreat at Omega Institute, NY
Thriving Through Uncertainty with A Course in Miracles 
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October 14-18 | Intensive Retreat at Kripalu Center, MA
Unleash Your Calling: Creating the Work and Life You Love
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