I’m no kite surfer. I’ve never tried it, probably never will.

But watching the kite surfers at Squamish, Canada’s kite-surfing capital, this past weekend, prompted me to reflect on the variety of opportunities we have in life, opportunities we have to make the best of, or the worst of.

I sure admired the grace, the strength, and the skill of those we witnessed gliding across the water. I realized, though, that the beauty of their craft was the result of a lot of previous effort and courage.

 I turned around to see Stawamis Chief, a rock face where climbers, some with ropes, some without, grasp the most meagre of handholds and footholds to climb several thousand feet of sheer vertical wall, and did see a climber or two on the wall. Again, not my sport; I’ll probably never do that. But I admire their skill, courage and ultimate achievement.

This morning’s newscast featured a short clip of the host rappelling down the side of a building. “Frightening,” she said, but she’d done it for a charity.

Now, I haven’t rappelled down the side of a building but I have rappelled down waterfalls and a canyon. I love the sport. And I don’t really find it frightening.

I also love climbing to the tops of mountains. And I venture out into the wild, sometimes alone, where the possibility exists that I could come face-to-face with an uncomfortably large, or fast, animal.

And I love river rafting, and zip-lining, downhill (semi-out-of-control) skiing, and shooting rapids in a canoe. And I’m totally comfortable running along a 2 x 6 wall, twelve feet in the air. But I’ll probably never try bungee jumping or sky-diving. Some risky behaviours are within my comfort zone, some are beyond it.

We have differing interests and differing levels of risk tolerance. Some may participate in activities outside my comfort level but find others within my comfort level too risky.

Our subjective evaluations of risk and reward likely reflect the circumstances that initially introduced us to the activity and the opportunities we have subsequently had, to hone our skills. Mastering these skills follows confidence and hard work. And then the risk level diminishes, or may even evaporate altogether.

Isn’t that a reflection of all of life? We have differing perspectives, differing opportunities and challenges. As we explore and participate in those opportunities, and develop skills in those areas, they become less and less risky behaviours for us. That’s true whether it’s recreational opportunities, employment, business opportunities, social opportunities, relationships.

The common element, though, is that to achieve anything, we have to risk the first step, and then work at it. The idea of “just being a ‘natural’” is virtually non-existent. We get good at something by educating ourselves about it, taking action, devoting ourselves hard at it, and eventually the activity becomes relatively risk-free.

That includes economic activities. It includes investing. As my mentors like to say: “investing is not risky; lack of financial education is risky.” We take a step at a time to learn the skills and gradually the risk diminishes. And the rewards are for those who dare to take one more step beyond the last one, and then the next one beyond that.

For some, the risky initial step may be putting down the deposit on that first home; it’s not unlike strapping on that kite for the first time! It’s the beginning of a process, and who knows what great achievements await? And what economic waves can then be ridden with grace and confidence?

Rent to own tip

Credit repair is one of the main reasons people choose rent-to-own. And one of the nastiest problems in credit issues resulting from disputes with mobile phone providers. It’s easy to ring up big cell phone bills, get into a dispute with the provider, and then simply refuse to pay what seems totally unfair. But, the bottom line is, they will report the missed payment, and your credit will get screwed. Even if you never pay off that ugly bill, in the end you can’t win. The surest way to avoid the problem is: read your contract before you sign it.

Quote of the Week:

Know who you are, and be it. Know what you want, and go out and get it!

– Carroll Bryant