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Chip's Column: fear-less

by Chip Gaines
Published on July 16, 2020

Here you can read Chip's thoughts from our summer issue of Magnolia Journal on identifying the things in your own life that are worth the risk.

When the magazine team got together and decided that we were going to devote this issue to risk, my first thought was: It’s about time! Followed by: So when do I start?

Risk is my default setting. It’s part of my DNA to want to tackle the world and see how far I can climb. Even if just to taste the thrill of walking that edge. Sure, it’s meant that I’ve had to learn a lot of lessons the hard way. I’ve been knocked down more times than I can count. On many occasions to the point where people have questioned my ability to get back in the ring and have any sort of fighting chance.

But every setback or failure just shows me that I’ve got more growing to do. Each time I’m forced to course correct, I’m reminded how much untapped potential must exist on every path less traveled. Riding out the turbulence, even living through a few nosedives, has given me the confidence to know that I’m not going to let fear be part of the equation. The moment we’re willing to say that we’re not afraid to fail, fear dissipates and it loses its power over us.

Jo and I spent the first day of the new year in New Orleans with a group of close friends to watch the Baylor Bears play against the Georgia Bulldogs in the Sugar Bowl. The night before the game, we all went out for a nice dinner. It was a chance to unwind and enjoy each other’s company, but I wanted to shake things up. So I asked the question: If fear wasn’t part of the equation, how would your life look different?

You could hear the restaurant bustling in the background as our own table grew quiet. Fear can make people uncomfortable. It can silence plans and redirect dreams before they even have a voice. But gradually, one by one, our friends started speaking up. A few of my buddies—guys I’ve known for more than a decade—were talking about things they wanted to do with their lives, things they would do in a heartbeat if they weren’t afraid of the potential collateral damage. We’re talking extraordinary dreams—from health goals to parenting and relationships. I was moved by the honesty that was exchanged around the table that night. And how different risk, and the things we believed to be worth risking for, looked to all of us.

For that reason, I’ve become convinced that risk is not something to be measured based on who makes the biggest splash or the loudest bang. The barometer for risk isn’t grounded in grandiosity or based on what you’ve got to lose. Because really, we’re all in a position to lose something. The courage to take your shot is half the battle. The other half? Viewing failure as a teacher and not an enemy.

I can’t promise there won’t be letdowns and curves in the road ahead. But I will guarantee that surprises and miracles abound in equal measure. Risk is inherent to both. So what it seems to come down to is identifying the things in your own life that are worth risking for.

So now I’ve got a question for you..