It takes courage, or foolhardiness, to take risks in life. Not taking any risks often means no success at all. What have some wise thinkers said about risk?

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You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you’re doing. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself.

— Alan Alda

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

— Alfred Lord Tennyson

There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

— Anaïs Nin

One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.

— André Gide

If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be too cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.

— Annie Dillard

Investors should start with a view of skepticism. They should become intellectual investors rather than emotional investors. They should be careful, and they should be skeptical.

— Arthur Levitt

Dominator culture has tried to keep us all afraid, to make us choose safety instead of risk, sameness instead of diversity. Moving through that fear, finding out what connects us, reveling in our differences; this is the process that brings us closer, that gives us a world of shared values, of meaningful community.

— bell hooks, Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope

You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.

— Beverly Sills

The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.

— Bill Clinton

I’ve found that luck is quite predictable. If you want more luck, take more chances. Be more active. Show up more often.

— Brian Tracy

The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.

— Charles Du Bos, (sometimes attributed to Charles Dickens, Charles DuBois, W.E.B. du Bois)

Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool or you go out in the ocean.

— Christopher Reeve

Don’t be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.

— David Lloyd George

Everything worth doing in the world is a desperate gamble, a game of chance, where nothing is certain.
What is love? Is it not a wild and sublime speculation that can end in ecstasy or despair?
What is courage? Is it not a hazardous risk of fortune that can end in victory or defeat?
What is adventure? Is it not a blind leap in the dark that can end in joy or disaster?

— David O. Rankin

The only person who never makes mistakes is the person who never does anything.

The great affair, the love affair with life,
is to live as variously as possible,
to groom one’s curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred,
climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day.

Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding,
and, despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detours,
life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length.

It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery,
but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.

— Diane Ackerman, “found poetry” from A Natural History of the Senses

Shake my future push me past my complacency
my taken-for-granted my comfort zone
shake my future let me source the unimagined
be released from the sentence of the inevitable
take control, empower myself
past the dour predictions of the present
and change myself …

— Dorothea Smartt, 2012

Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable, let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.

— Douglas Adams

There is no security on this earth. Only opportunity.

— Douglas MacArthur

Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.

— e. e. cummings

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.

— Edward de Bono

Do one thing every day that scares you.

— Eleanor Roosevelt

Bite off more than you can chew, then chew it.

— Ella Williams

Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.

— Erich Fromm

Sometimes it seem like to tell the truth today is to run the risk of being killed. But if I fall, I’ll fall five feet four inches forward in the fight for freedom. I’m not backing off.

— Fannie Lou Hamer

Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.

— Frederick Wilcox

To save all we must risk all.

— Friedrich Schiller, Fiesco; or, the Genoese Conspiracy

An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.

— G. K. Chesterton

If you risk nothing, then you risk everything.

— Geena Davis

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent in doing nothing.

— George Bernard Shaw

Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.

— H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

— H. Jackson Brown Jr., attributed to his mother Sarah Frances Brown

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

— Helen Keller

If a man is alive, there is always danger that he may die, though the danger must be allowed to be less in proportion as he is dead-and-alive to begin with. A man sits as many risks as he runs.

— Henry David Thoreau

Buy the ticket, take the ride.

— Hunter S. Thompson

Nobody is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart, for his purity, by definition, is unassailable.

— James Baldwin

Playful arising is authorized by both risk and trust in the process and in oneself. To be truly playful and improvisational one must not look for results.

— Joshua L. Goldberg

The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a ‘What the hell?’ attitude.

— Julia Child

Whenever I prepare for a journey I prepare as though for death. Should I never return, all is in order.

— Katherine Mansfield

With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.

— Keshavan Nair

You won’t skid if you stay in a rut.

— Kin Hubbard

Prudent people are very happy; ’tis an exceeding fine thing, that’s certain, but I was born without it, and shall retain to my day of death the humour of saying what I think.

— Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Those who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try nothing and succeed.

— Lloyd Jones, adapted

I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.

— Louisa May Alcott

There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be no community without vulnerability; there can be no peace, and ultimately no life, without community.

— M. Scott Peck

It is easy to follow, but it is uninteresting to do easy things. We find out about ourselves only when we take risks, when we challenge and question.

— Magdalena Abakanowicz

It’s not so much that we’re afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it’s that place in between that we fear . . . . It’s like being between trapezes. It’s Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There’s nothing to hold on to.

— Marilyn Ferguson

The person who has had a bull by the tail once has learned 60 or 70 times as much as a person who hasn’t.

— Mark Twain

Loyalty to a petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.

— Mark Twain

To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control, that can lead you to be shattered in very extreme circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something very important about the condition of the ethical life: that it is based on a trust in the uncertain and on a willingness to be exposed; it’s based on being more like a plant than like a jewel, something rather fragile, but whose very particular beauty is inseparable from that fragility.

— Martha Nussbaum
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