In 1968 everything seemed to indicate that she was a promising young figure of skating. At 19 she participated in skating championships in the United States, but when she failed to enter the Olympic team, decided to try her luck in a completely different area. She immersed herself completely into the fashion universe. After 16 years as editor of Vogue, when she saw that she would not occupy the position of chief editor, she decided to give another twist to her life and began designing for Ralph Lauren. A short time later, she left that job to dare to launch her own workshop.
Her name is Vera Wang and today her wedding dresses are one of the most recognized around the world. She would never have succeeded if, after her first defeat, she had sat crying over spilled milk or if she had just occupied a discreet position where she could not shine with her own light. Instead, she decided to consider new challenges, take risks and model her own dream.
Taking risks makes us happier
Psychologists at the Colorado State University agree with all those who consider taking on new risks. They have proven that one of the keys to happiness and satisfaction in life consists precisely in taking on new challenges and risking a little.
In their research, they monitored the daily activities carried out by a group of people for 21 days and asked them to report on a daily basis how they felt. They discovered that the days when people were more curious and dared to take risks felt also happier.
The researchers discovered also that these people were aware that happiness does not lie only in possessions or relationships, but feeds on taking on new challenges that help them get out of their comfort zone. They know that taking risks can make them feel uncomfortable or even vulnerable at times, but they also know that it is the most direct way to grow.
Living in the Golden Third
Marvin Zuckerman, a professor at the University of Delaware who devoted part of his life to studying the tendency of people to take risks and seek new sensations, discovered that the happiest people are only 34% of the total and are those willing to take risks, but without exaggerating. That 34% was called the Golden Third.
In fact, another investigation carried out at the University of British Columbia revealed that managers who are most at risk are the most successful. The more risk, the more reward. The fall may also be greater, so it is important to know how to dose the risk.
That is why in life there are times when we simply need to listen to our favorite song and relax or enjoy that ritual that we have been doing for years and that calms us down. Also what we know can also make us happy, but from time to time we must look for new challenges because only when we abandon the known we discover our potential.
People who live in the Golden Third have reached a point of perfect balance between the known and novelty, the safe and the risky. They have a comfort zone, but often leave it in search of new challenges and experiences because they do not feel risk aversion.
The most interesting thing is that, once we enter that Golden Third, once we leave behind risk aversion, we are likely to find our balance and remain in that area because it is unthinkable to return to the monotonous and perfectly planned life we were living before.
At that point we understand Hellen Keller when she said that “Security is mainly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do people experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long term than exposing ourselves directly to it. Life is a daring adventure or it is nothing.”
Kashdan, T. & Steger, M. (2007) Curiosity and pathways to well-being and meaning in life: Traits, states, and everyday behaviors. Motivation and Emotion; 31(3): 159-173.
Dohmen, T. et. Al. (2005) Individual risk attitudes: New evidence from a large, representative, experimentally-validated survey. IZA Discussion Papers; 1730.
MacCrimmon, K. R. & Wehrung, D. A. (1990) Characteristics of Risk Taking Executives. Management Science; 36(4) 422-435.