I recently saw the movie, Million Dollar Baby, which was Oscar nominated for Best Picture and Best Actress and Best Actor. Just a bunch of accolades to its name. The story (without spoiling it too much) talks about a woman’s dream to become a world-renowned boxer. To make it big in this world. And the risks associated with striving for that dream – especially in a sport as grueling and dangerous as boxing.
The movie touches upon the theme of risk taking. About whether or not it is worth it in the end. In American culture, we are bred to believe that we need to take big risks at every turn. How that is the only way to make a name for yourself. To succeed. And to live a fulfilling life.
Everywhere you go. In advertisements and commercials. It invites you to take that big “leap of faith” and to risk it all and to simply blindly follow your passion. That’s all good and all. But sometimes, you just need to accept that not every risk is going to lead to significant rewards. Some risks can be very dangerous and not be worth it in the end. Whether it is worth it or not is really up to you to decide.
Only you can make that decision. But this whole concept of taking risks is a double-edged sword. Many people out there can live a content and peaceful life by simply living by the status quo and playing by the rules of the system. Many people don’t see the need to make it big or to turn your company into a billion-dollar business or to become the heavy weight champion of the world.
Some people are fairly content with where they’re at. And that’s okay. Risk taking is not a pre-requisite towards a happy and fulfilling life. There are positives to risk taking. And there are, of course, drawbacks towards it. I think it’s like that for almost everything that we talk about in society today.
Capitalism is another form of risk taking. The pursuit of a profit. That’s the system that our country is based upon. And like all things, it is a double-edged sword. The pursuit of money can actually lead to innovation and breed healthy competition, allowing companies to improve their service and their products for a healthier and broader economy. Capitalism has the power to improve society as a whole.
Of course, the other side is that it can lead to cutting corners and tons of greed as well. Think of all the CEO’s that gave themselves hefty paydays even amidst the backdrop of the financial crisis back in 2008. Think about Enron and their accounting scandal of reporting astronomical profits. Capitalism, like everything, has its ups and downs. Its strength and its flaws.
Or how about social media. Think about the ways that we are connected to others now. The fact that we can connect and chat with someone from across the other side of the world (and free of charge) is an amazing opportunity and something that couldn’t have happened just decades ago. With the inventions of Instagram, WhatsApp, WeChat, we have the ability to connect and communicatee simply at our fingertips.
Of course, the flip side is that social media can be addictive and actually lead to a deteriorating mental health if not used properly. It can lead to comparison of other people’s highlights with your mundane everyday life, which could lead to a sense of hollowness and insufficiency. Social media can intoxicate and lead to destructive desires for a completely material life lacking substance and depth.
For me, I’ve been well educated on the mishaps of social media, but I still use it for better or worse. Because it’s a good way to connect. And if used in one way, it can actually lead you to feel inspired and motivated – depending on the content you consume on a daily basis.
So, these are just a few examples of the things out there that are double-edged. The things that have their place in society but could also serve as a detriment if not used in the proper way. So many things in life are like that.
I guess it is our responsibility to make sure that these tools in our society are used correctly and in a manner that provides positive value to our community and surroundings. And in a way that it does not harm our (or anybody else’s) mental and physical health. That’s the sweet spot.
Whether it be with capitalism. Or social media. Or with taking risks. Or anything else. It is possible to use them in a coherent manner so that we can continue to innovate, to communicate, to improve, and to inspire a whole generation of people. And of course, to better ourselves as well.
These tools are all double-edged. There is a bright side. And there is a dark side. There are strengths. There are flaws. There are ups. There are downs. I guess it’s a nice snapshot of life as a whole. Everything can be seen in a double-edged light.
Just make sure to surround yourself with the right support group. And to use every tool you have at your disposal in a responsible and value-generating fashion. It’s not rocket science. It just takes a little bit of discipline and a little bit of self-awareness.
And learn how to take calculated risks. You don’t need to risk it all without a safety net. Make sure that you have your parachute. That you have your support system handy in case you fall or fail. It’s important to analyze the situation and not simply blindly take risks for the sake of taking a risk. Know your limits. Know your passions. Know your lane. And do your best given your human limitations.