In The Martian, the Oscar nominated film based on a book by Andy Weir, astronaut Mark Watney is stranded alone on Mars for almost 18 months. He endures hardships and hunger the likes of which we could only imagine.
When his crew mounts a rescue mission, he launches himself off planet in an attempt to re-connect with them. When the first attempt fails, and they miss catching him, he is faced with a choice.
In order to get enough propulsion to be saved, he has to cut a hole in his space suit. His suit that is the only thing standing between him and the perils of space. It’s a risk, a life-threatening risk.
As he slices open his glove, he muses that he is going to fly like Ironman.
As we launch into a new school year, I’ve been reminded how many times we ask our students to take risks. We ask them as freshman to sign up for an AP course. We ask them as first graders to try to read a passage out loud. We ask them as 7th graders to step on to a stage and try out for a play.
And we promise to catch them.
I’ve been watching carefully as my one year old grandchildren (triplets in case you didn’t know) take risk after risk as they learn to walk and talk and tackle this world.
As adults, it can be just as hard to take risks. Retiring from a lifelong career and stepping into something new is a challenge. Taking on a new leadership role is daunting. Picking up a new hobby, forging new relationships, trying something new is a risk.
But with risk comes reward.
Playing it safe might be easier, but as we kick off a new year, consider what you could gain by taking a risk.
Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but were afraid to try?
Is there a place you want to visit? A person you want to get to know? Something you want to learn?
Take to risk. Punch the hole in your space suit.