What Are We Really Risking?

By Mike Johnson

Something attracts me about a guy who straps on a Harley, launches himself up a ramp leading into thin air, and flys 80 miles per hour over a chasm full of Mac Trucks.

I've always looked up to Evel Knievel .

Although he should be inducted into the mathematics Hall-of-Fame for calling attention to the value of geometric equations in the positioning of landing ramps, he's more commonly remembered as the world's greatest daredevil.

For more than a decade, Knievel thrilled millions with his successful - and unsuccessful - death-defying motorcycle jumps. For Knievel, living without a net, became his way of life.

"In my line of work," he used to say, "You have to have a positive mental attitude. And if that positive mental attitude doesn't work when you make that jump, you've got to be man enough to handle the circumstances. In my case - I'm man enough."

The jump that provided the most "circumstances" was the one that launched his career - a 1968, world-record jump in Las Vegas over the fountains in front of Caesars Palace. Knievel had positioned his ramps to soar 30 feet over the magnificent fountains, landing 145 feet away, leaving just enough room to land before roaring 80 mph into the entrance of a parking garage. Unfortunately, on that January day, he only flew 141 feet.

Missing the sweet spot of his landing ramp, Knievel was thrown over handlebars, becoming a crumpled, rag doll of skidding body parts who didn't awaken for almost 30 days. Even so, he got up and jumped again. And again. Over the next decade, Knievel's successively longer jumps broke every world record - and every bone in his body. Yet he survived it all - even unsuccessfully launching himself via rocket over the Snake River Canyon.

Most "normal" people called Knievel crazy. Why risk losing your life just to discover how far you can jump?

The truth is, most of us never come close to risking anything at all. Although we see the dream we'd like to achieve, the gap between where we are and where we want to be seems too great. Too uncertain. So instead of focusing on our destination, we're riveted on the void. We let the fear of failure buffalo us. Afraid to release the familiar, we never make the jump, never grow to our potential.

When Knievel jumped, his very life was at risk. When we leap toward our dreams, what are we really risking? Embarrassment from revealing our wishes to the world? Looking inept for awhile until we master the new skill? Financial setbacks until we land the new career? So what? It's not like we're risking death or dismemberment. It just seems that way. Fear's shadow is always larger than its actual size. Each day, more glorious dreams are willingly surrendered than could ever be lost by active pursuit.

Even when Evel Knievel crashed, he always landed farther from where he started. He always survived. And he used each painful lesson to jump even further the next time. If a man can survive 150 foot motorcycle jumps and being launched over mile-wide canyons, doesn't it seem silly that we're afraid of chasing our much tamer aspirations?

Living without a net is the philosophy of focusing all efforts on achieving a goal, leaving none for the possibility of failure - because once committed, we can not fail to succeed.

"A man can fall many, many times in life," said an experienced Knievel, "but he's never a failure until he refuses to get up."

How far can you jump?


Mike is an energetic writer & entrepreneur. Learn more about Mike's offerings at WorldsBestWriter.com