Posted on December 10, 2018
by Steve Janowick

“Great men live dangerously; small men don’t take chances.”

After an MSG-laden heaping of General Tso’s chicken, a little regret, and a lot of full-belly breaths, I cracked open my stale fortune cookie, unraveled the paper, and this is what it read.  Occasionally, you get a fortune that actually makes you stop and ponder. This was one of those occasions. Based on this rationale, was I a great man? Or a small one? I have certainly taken many risks in my life.  Rolled the dice and taken the path unknown. But, frankly, most of those risks have come at a huge cost. They’ve been a huge financial (and sometimes emotional) detriment to me and my family.  But at the end of the day, I at least had the gonads to take those chances to live dangerously.  So, I must be great, right?

Then, there’s my dear friend who will go nameless.  He’s the Felix to my Oscar. Risk? Hell no! He prefers living in a town called “predictability” and driving down a road named “the path of least resistance”.  Just the mere thought of stepping outside his comfort zone riddles him with anxiety. He’s been at the same job for over 24 years. Been driving the same SUV model for 20 years.  And been with the same woman for 30 years. The last real chance he took was switching to a fine-bristled tooth brush-and that nearly gave him an ulcer. So, according to the guy in charge of writing the messages at the fortune cookie company, my friend must be a small man, right?

From the quarterback to the entrepreneur, and even the schlep at the roulette wheel, the gunslinger has always been sexier than his game manager counterpart.  But why is this? Being impulsive, unstable and shaky aren’t exactly synonyms of greatness. I’ll tell you why. Because just like the rollercoaster at the amusement park, the higher the possibility of danger, the bigger the visceral thrill.  And this is the foundation, the lifeblood, of every hero. The guy who throws caution to the wind and snatches victory from the jaws of defeat.

Sure, in La La Land that’s all well and good.  But how about the quarterback who lost the game for his team by throwing a wild, last-second pass into traffic only to have it intercepted?  Or the entrepreneur who had to crawl back to his 9-5 life after his dream of self-made success came crashing down? And the gambler who took a nose dive off a high-rise after losing his family’s life savings?

Sometimes, that rollercoaster actually does fall off the tracks.  

Last time I checked, dependability, consistency, and steadiness were all very positive attributes.  Some would argue-pillars of greatness.  My friend will never have to worry about his family’s security like I have.  Sure, it may be a boring ride…

But no one ever dies on a merry-go-round.

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