“A ship is always safe at the shore but that’s not what it’s built for.”  Albert Einstein.

The #1 risk-takers advantage

The British have a wonderful tradition called a “Gap Year.” It’s a year taken off by a student between secondary school and higher education. Generally it involves a trip to a distant land to make or break it on your own. Parents typically pay for the ticket and find their teenager a sofa to sleep on for the first couple of weeks (usually with a friend or a friend of a friend) while the student finds a job. From then on, they are on their own and rely on their imagination and courage.

Today you can find ready-made Gap Years online – not quite the same degree of risk but whichever route you choose, a Gap Year involves stepping outside your comfort zone and stepping into a whole bunch of risky situations that teach you to grow up or give in.

Most succeed, some give up after a few weeks, and a few win mom or dad over and turn the whole thing into a holiday. Those who succeed tend to go away as boys and girls and come back as resourceful young men and women. They learn the first risk-takers advantage: initiative. Self-motivation, ingenuity, survival, drive, responsibility, vision and imagination all rolled into one.

Those who fail or give up on their Gap Year, learn to blame circumstances, so-called “powerful others” (employers, landlords, celebrities etc.) or fate, for their lack of initiative. They discover they are more comfortable being told what to do by someone else and place future control of their lives in the hands of others.

Some people dismiss a Gap Year as being full of life-threatening risks in dangerous situations, but those who have experienced it will tell you it’s not about life-threatening risks it’s about life-changing risks and the ability to survive fast and smart and see everyday as a fresh chance to achieve something new rather than getting stuck in a rut of predictability and habit.