The Prairie Doc Perspective

Two views on taking risks

By Richard P. Holm MD

This discussion is about risky behavior, which can be very harmful, such as smoking, drinking too much, driving and texting, driving under the influence of alcohol, riding a bike or cycle without a helmet, not using seat belts, eating too much, and not getting up off that couch, to name a few. No argument, these are life choice type of activities that put an individual or individuals at serious risk of harm. Chances are good that within the last month your doctor, spouse, or parent has been harping at you about at least one of these.

But there’s another way of looking at it. Why are any of us drawn to take risks? Many say that risk taking is an important part of our creative character; the heart of innovation, and without taking some risk our lives would be flat, stale, without spice. Google “risk taking” and you will find quotes of famous people advising us to take risks. These suggest that true executive leadership has to have a component of risk taking, in order to bring businesses to change and improve.

For example 19th century French writer Andre Gide said, “One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” Jimmy Carter advises to “Go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.” Helen Keller encouraged us with these words, “Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” And I especially like this one by Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

But wait. These quotes about taking risk are really all about make a change; about bringing oneself out of old routines and habits that are not advancing the cause; about seeing ways to get better and getting there. That’s a big difference from risky and dangerous habits and behavior.

If you are caught in the grips of a risky habit that could be harmful to you or to someone you love, please take the risk to change, discover new lands, go out on a limb, dare to an adventure, and catch the trade winds to get out of a bad habit and change for the better.

Dr. Rick Holm wrote this Prairie Doc Perspective for “On Call®,” a weekly program where medical professionals discuss health concerns for the general public.  “On Call®” is produced by the Healing Words Foundation in association with the South Dakota State University Journalism Department. “On Call®” airs Thursdays on South Dakota Public Broadcasting-Television at 7 p.m. Central, 6 p.m. Mountain. Visit us at OnCallTelevision.com. 

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