“To be outstanding, get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” – Alrik Koudenburg
Back when I was covering transdisciplinary skills, I missed a pretty important one. Risk taking, often lumped in with entrepreneurial skills in twenty-first century skill lists, develops some pretty important traits. Now, when I talk about risk taking, I’m not talking about base jumping or anything extreme like that. Sometimes, taking a risk can be something as simple as saying hi to a stranger or trying a skill or project that feels beyond your current skills set. Learning how to try something you don’t know the outcome of, and to accept the outcome gracefully, leads to more resilient adults.
Learning to take risks means pushing boundaries – your own or those placed by some outside constraint. Pushing boundaries can lead to innovations and creative solutions to challenges. It means learning how to face fears, one baby step at a time. Risk taking can even teach how to make mistakes and recover, or to accept rejection as the end of one path and use the knowledge gained to move quickly on to the next path.
Being able to take risks means developing the ability to assess a situation, being able to identify the problem or challenge along with potential positive and negative outcomes, and then to form a plan and implement it, accepting the outcome with poise and reflection. The earlier we start supporting and encouraging children’s natural risk taking ability, the more often they practice, and the more confidently and successfully they will be able to take larger risks.