This past weekend I attended a firearm safety course. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, now, and I finally “pulled the trigger” on it. (harhar)
As part of the class, I had to rent a handgun to practice with. I’ve only shot a handgun once in my life — a .38 that had so much recoil I thought my wrists were going to snap off. So for this class, I chose a .22.
Yes, I know. It’s practically a BB gun.
My husband gave me nothing but grief about my choice. He wanted me to practice with something with more stopping power.
But I wanted to learn this weekend. This class wasn’t about stopping criminals in their tracks — it was about learning the ins and outs of handling a gun, taking it apart, cleaning it, and shooting it with some level of accuracy.
I didn’t want to be afraid that the gun in my hand was going to break my wrist.
I knew that fear would impede my ability to learn and retain information.
And I’m not alone in this. There are many, many studies that prove fear impedes learning. As science evangelist and author Ainissa Ramirez puts it in this article on the science of fear:
No one can perform well on cognitive tasks when their brains are being bombarded with fight-or-flight chemistries.
Sometimes it’s best to just jump in with both feet — take a risk and get the experience. Handling a firearm is not one of those times. I purposefully prioritized learning over risk-taking because it’s more important to be safe than anything else in that situation.
So how do you figure out when to take it slow and prioritize learning over risk-taking? Personally, I ask myself this question: Will it hurt someone if things go wrong?
A gun safety class is an obvious yes, here.
Most situations aren’t so obvious. For example, when I make business decisions in my role as CEO of Horizon Peak Consulting. While my family is not involved in my business, the decisions I make in the business could directly impact them. If I take a risk and it tanks the business, my family’s income is affected. So that “no risk, no reward” business mentality doesn’t work for me. I take risks when I need to, but for the most part I take things slow and prioritize learning.
Taking risks can be a powerful springboard for growth. But it’s not the only way to grow.