The Anatomy of a Healthy Risk

I have not always been a risk-taker.  I have had to grow wings.  Now when I take a risk I feel like I am growing wings and jumping off a cliff at the same time! But the view is so awesome!

Birds make great sky-circles of their freedom,

How do they learn it?

They fall and falling,

They’re given wings.


At 18 I went away from my familiar North Carolina city to a small women’s college in a tiny Midwestern town. Something inside me wanted to grow wings, wanted to experience something different, wanted to get free of the “same ole same ole” of my existence and experience a new adventure. This bold risk boosted me into my first feathers!  That got me going for the rest of my life.  I have a lot of feathers now, but they have not come without pain and suffering, bumps and bruises from falling and hitting the ground, not to mention losing some in molting seasons!

Definition of Healthy Risk-Taking

Taking healthy risks is something that all of us must do to live the life we really want. Sometimes it involves giving up the familiar, even if it is something that is comfortable. It involves taking an inventory of pros and cons to weigh in on the consequences before we know for sure if it is a positive risk.

Gail McMeekin, a career coach with www.creativesuccess.com defines positive risk taking: 

“Unlike negative risks, which are typically impulsive and emotionally driven, positive risks are calculated. You must think them through, and anticipate what could happen, before you jump.” 

A healthy risk means that you are thinking clearly, not just emotionally driven and impulsive, when you make a decision.  Positive risk-taking involves counting the cost, but choosing to be courageous when moving forward.

“You have to risk going too far to discover just how far you can really go.” T.S. Eliot

il_340x270.324042743What keeps us from taking healthy risks? 

Fear of:

  • The unknown
  • What others may think
  • Being uncomfortable
  • Failure
  • Being unhappy
  • The list goes on….

How many feathers do we need to grow in order to take a healthy risk? NONE!  Yes, you heard what I said.  Nada. Feathers only grow while you jump.  You only have to calculate the costs, consequences of your actions, make the decision based on your wise mind, and then leap!  You will learn what you need while you are leaping.

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” Pablo Picasso

Courage is required to grow wings 

If you want to grow wings, then you gotta fly.   Be willing to look at the possibilities and open yourself to flying lessons.  You will get there.

What is the risk that you have to take in order to make your dreams come true?  Define that and you have earned some feathers! Then go find your cliff!  Success is not defined by the end result, but by the inner result of courage to listen to yourself!

“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.” Soren Kierkegaard


Author: Susan S. Miller, PhD, LPCS, NCC for Miller Counseling Services, PC

Dr. Susan Miller

Susan Miller, PhD, LPCS, NCC is a Psychotherapist, Certified Creativity Coach, Certified Kaizen-Muse™ Creativity Coach, Entrepreneur & Life Coach offers counseling, coaching & creativity workshops that light the path of your life journey through Lighted Path® Coaching and Miller Counseling Services, PC Along with having 30+ years of counseling, coaching, and group facilitation experience, Susan is a life-time trained artist with a special interest in painting, mixed media and fabric art.


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