Ingenuity and resourcefulness
“Risk brings out the ingenuity and resourcefulness which ensure success.”
— Robert Rawls
“There are men climbing around in the top of your tree!” Darla reported with excitement when I answered the front door that morning. She knew the tree surgeons were coming to remove our giant oak that day, but the sight of them working in the lofty branches was still amazing to her.
“I’ve been afraid to look,” I confessed.
“DON’T! Don’t look!” Darla knows how nervous I can get.
Despite this good advice, a few hours later I could not resist stepping outside to see how things were going. Through our large back windows, I had seen HUGE branches lowered to the ground by the crane, so I figured they might be getting to a point where most of the tree was gone and it wouldn’t be terrifying to watch. Bad assumption on my part.
That tree was so tall that, even after the top part of it was gone, it was still dizzying to watch the climber walking around up there, attaching the crane before sawing the branches or trunk. It was so fascinating that I could not pull myself away — and in fact, true to form, I had to go for my camera. I’ve never been to the circus, but I can’t imagine it being more thrilling than this. I only wish I had photographed the whole thing from the beginning, when the tree still towered over all the others.
One thing that made it somewhat less frightening was the expertise and precision with which they went about the task. Clearly, these folks knew what they were doing. I had somehow imagined someone standing safely inside a cherry-picker sawing all the branches off, but I guess that doesn’t work when there are trunks that weigh several thousand pounds being removed (the heaviest piece they took that day weighed over 8000 pounds).
I felt tremendously grateful that there are people who make a career of knowing how to go about such momentous tasks. Ditto for construction workers who build skyscrapers, or first responders who tackle wildfires, or any number of valiant people who are willing to face the considerable risks inherent in keeping our world going.
Watching these tree professionals at work, I realized the truth of what Rawls says about ingenuity and resourcefulness. Whoever designed the tools and methods, as well as those who spent the many hours of practice it would take to get good at using them, displayed determined competence that benefits all of us. While their efficiency did not inspire me to learn tree work, it did encourage me to become better at what I have to do.
Risk is a part of everyone’s life, though the type and degree of it varies greatly. I’m a cautious person who is averse to taking chances of any kind. Because of this, risk can induce fearful procrastination on my part, or passive avoidance of situations that seem precarious. I need to remember that risk can be used as an incentive to sharpen my perception and get me moving, adjusting circumstances to improve the probability of success and decrease the likelihood of misfortune.
What risks are you dealing with right now? How can you transform uncertain situations, using them as assets rather than liabilities?