The Dignity of Risk

You’ve heard the saying “No risk, no reward.” It’s an old saying that was coined, perhaps, before the insurance and legal industry grew to have the influence they have today.

It seems, in today’s world, we are becoming more and more risk adverse. Often common wisdom says, “If there is risk involved, the sensible thing to do is avoid it.” Decades ago, that was the common advice for people with disabilities. Limits were set under the idea of keeping people safe—free from risk, injury, or even disappointment.

Yet, we all know that everything in life has a little risk. While mitigating risk is wise, if you try to eliminate it you may eliminate growth as well.

At Harbor House, we dance with risk every day—especially health risks. We do the best we can to reduce those risks in order to ensure that each person who lives at Harbor House remains healthy and safe. Yet, we also want to help each person live a full, abundant life. Can we live abundantly without a little risk?

While we must always be prudent and wise in our choices, we cannot avoid risk entirely. Think of some of the risks you have taken. Perhaps some led to a great accomplishment or perhaps there was a risk you took that taught a great lesson. Both have value.

For people with disabilities, the world’s desire to avoid risk has often kept them from trying new hobbies, learning new skills, or even finding work in the marketplace.

The key to dancing with risk is to weigh the risk against the reward and that is really determined by the risk-taker. One person’s “worth it!” can be another person’s “no way!” Each person must decide for themselves how much risk they are comfortable with.

At Harbor House, we know that the best way to take on risk is to share it. When we work together, we find our greatest risks lead to the greatest rewards. Whether it’s seeing the view from above the trees on a zip line or hearing the crowd roar at the finish line of a marathon competition, together we can take a chance and accomplish great things.