Extreme sports aside, most people are averse to taking unnecessary risks. It’s not a flaw in our personalities — in fact, playing it safe is actually an evolutionary adaptation. We see a similar instinct in nature: When resources are abundant, animals will take fewer risks. Yet for us humans, risk aversion taken to the extreme can mean missing out on life-changing opportunities.
Though it can be difficult to take a chance, one quality that successful people share is the willingness to try new things — even if their attempt might end in failure. From artists and writers to inventors and athletes, these quotes about taking risks can help you find the motivation you need to roll the dice, make a leap, and reach for that amazing goal.
We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
— Joseph Campbell
A blossom must break the sheath it has been sheltered by.
— Phyllis Bottome, author
Damn everything that is grim, dull, motionless, unrisking, inward turning, damn everything that won’t get in the circle, that won’t enjoy, that won’t throw its heart into the tension, surprise, fear and delight of the circus, the round world, full of existence.
— Helen Kelley, religious leader
You will never stub your toe standing still. The faster you go, the more chance there is of stubbing your toe, but the more chance you have of getting somewhere.
— Charles F. Kettering, inventor
He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.
— Muhammad Ali
If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go in business because we’d be cynical… Well, that’s nonsense. You’re going to miss life. You’ve got to jump off the cliff all the time and build your wings on the way down.
— Ray Bradbury
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
— Helen Keller
Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out just how far one can go.
— T.S. Eliot
Like I said before, your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.
— Anthony Bourdain
The men who succeed best in public life are those who take the risk of standing by their own convictions.
— James Garfield
I believe that one of life’s greatest risks is never daring to risk… Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time.
— Oprah Winfrey
I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.
— Neil Gaiman
Brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared… It means you go on even though you’re scared.
— Angie Thomas, author
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.
— Steve Jobs
Photo credit: Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images