By Anna Kunnecke

[Note from Amy: Anna Kunnecke is one of my favorite coaches and she also happens to be one of my very dear friends. I love everything she writes. I invited her to share some thoughts on risk. I hope you love it! Anna said she would share a gift with one person randomly chosen from the comments section.]

You know how life coaches are always talking about taking risks, and going outside your comfort zone, and clichéd things like that?

Brace yourself, because I’m going to say that too.

But first, I must confess that all those motivational articles, zippy tips, and inspirational images should come with a warning label.

It would say:

Warning!!!  This advice could be hazardous to your career, relationships, and reputation!!

(I’m pretty sure they’ll kick me out of the life coach club for saying that, but it’s true.)

This live-your-boldest-life stuff can all start to feel very hypothetical.  Take risks…in theory.  Stretch yourself…in an abstract, spiritual sort of way.  Speak your truth…within the safety of a nice cozy Facebook group.

In real life, when you take risks, it will actually be…risky.  When you speak your truth, people may actually get pissed off.  When you step outside your comfort zone, you’ll almost certainly make a total ass out of yourself half the time.  And when you stop doing things to win others’ approval, you might actually…I know, this one stings…lose their approval.  Sometimes publicly, and painfully.

I think you should absolutely, totally, definitely take those risks anyway.

But I feel we owe it to you, as life coaches, to be up front about the multiple failures that will be involved.

This is why I love Amy, who I know IRL (that’s in real life as opposed to through the magical internet).  It’s not just her delicious garden barbeques and excellent late-night tipsy coaching.  It’s because she puts her money where her mouth is.

She writes things that elicit shitty comments.  She says things that are true, even when they might not be welcome.  She dances for pure joy even when people around her are raising their pinky fingers and their eyebrows.

And this is why she is not only a great coach, but an absolutely delicious human being.

But there is a cost to her authenticity, as there is for anyone who lives fully and radically.

She gets flak, pushback, criticism.  She gets her feelings hurt.  She has things fall flat.  This, my friends, is the inevitable cost of greatness.  That crushing sensation of failing.

And this is what creates greatness: not that you never flail or fail, but that you keep going anyway.

I’m telling you all this because most of us think, when something goes wrong, that it means we’re DOING something wrong.  Not true.  It just means we’re learning to do something new, and sucking at it is how we learn.  How we get great is that we suck at it a lot, over and over, slightly less each time.

Honestly, this suckage is far from fun.  In fact, it can be intensely painful and it’s one of my least favorite parts of being human.  Which is why you need people who can hold the faith for you when you’re too mortified to leave the house.  You need a small, loyal tribe who can believe in who you’re becoming, even when you’ve just had an epic flail.  In their living room.  In front of their in-laws.  Holding a glass of red.

Amy is part of that tribe for me, and when I recently bit it very, very hard, and felt too raw and tender and embarrassed to live, she reminded me that this is how we get great: we try things.  We suck.  We learn the lesson, whether it’s to wait 24 hours before hitting Send, or how to draw better boundaries with our kids, or how to communicate more clearly with an employee.  And then the next time we do it better.

So, here’s my advice: start taking risks with small things.  Wear that ring that exposes your soul, or the shirt that exposes your tattoo, or the campaign button that exposes your heart.  Do something that scares you a little but doesn’t involve your boss, your mother-in-law, or your life savings.

But do it today.

Taking risks in small arenas is how you build those risk-taking muscles for the big things.  Nobody goes to the Olympics and does their first high dive on live TV.  We need to train by starting small and gradually increasing our skill level and the difficulty of what we do.  So for your first few hundred scary things, choose something relatively manageable.  Go ahead and fall on your ass in front of people who will laugh gently.  Write something true and publish it under a pseudonym.  Submit the proposal, but have someone else proofread it first.

Then let the chips fall where they may.  If you get smacked or smashed, call someone loyal, cry, and then brush yourself off and stand up again.

This is what Amy and I do for each other, and it’s how we keep upping our game.

What you’ll find is that bit by bit, your risk-taking muscles get stronger and stronger.  Suddenly, you think you might like to scale a mountain, or tackle a great injustice.  You feel that big brave thing bulging out of you, ready to make its way out into the world.  And when that moment comes, you’ll be ready for it.  You’ll know your training is solid.  You’ll take that warning label, kiss it, and toss it in the trash.

You’ll know by then that failure doesn’t kill you, it’s just really embarrassing.  And when you can love yourself through the discomfort of that, and surround yourself with people who will do the same, you’ll stare failure down and grin.

Wear that grin like the badge of honor it is.  It’s a secret handshake; it’s code; it’s the wink we seasoned fail-ers give each other.  It’s the understanding that in the end, faithful failure spells t-r-i-u-m-p-h.

So how are your exercising your risk-taking muscles? Post one thing in the comments below. (Anna will choose a person at random to win a copy of her self study program, Love Letters from Your Life!)

Anna Kunnecke is a heathen mystic who helps women around the world declare dominion over their lives.  She created The Queen Sweep coaching program and teaches practical mysticism to smart, soulful women.  She calls her coaching process Personal Alchemy because it’s an undeniably magical transformation—turning your dross into gold. Get her free digital potion, How To Handle ANYTHING: A Strengthening Potion for Challenging Times, at


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12 Responses

  1. Leslie Ann says:

    I’ve been taking harp lessons for a year but have kept it under wraps from my co-workers. I recently provided the music at a retirement dinner for one of them!

  2. Stephanie says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this message thank you for this post as I am a work in progress when it comes to risk taking – I am an over-analyser and I go back and forth in my head with things instead of just going for it so hearing these things makes it a little better for me as I learn to allow myself to take risks!

  3. I recently was vulnerable with someone instead of acting like my feelings never get hurt and in turn she was vulnerable with me. I tend to think that’s a beautiful thing.
    Well said Anna–I’m all for risk. xoxo

  4. Andrea says:

    I was vulnerable with a man in a way that I thought would not be threatening to him, but instead it triggered the dreaded Male Flight Response…it completely sucked, but I lived through it.

  5. Colleen says:

    WOW!!! First let me say how fortunate the two of you are to have each other!!!

    I am the epitome of “taking risks under the cover of darkness”. I have tried so many new things over the years (and quit or failed at most of them)and heard the “here she goes again” mantra so often (it still plays loudly in my head) that now when I want to try something new I keep it under wraps until I know that it is either something I know I want to continue to pursue or I have succeeded enough that the mantra or accompanying eye rolls will be averted.

    And here I thought that I was well on my way to conquering my Approval Addiction!

  6. Wendy says:

    Thanks for this great post. It’s made me realize I’m not nuts for being what I consider a ‘late bloomer’ — I take a looonnnggg time doing things ‘undercover of darkness’ (as another commenter, Colleen, so aptly put it) before deciding to go public. Last year I started a blog about food, pleasure and the ethics of what we eat, and instead of launching whole-hog into what I REALLY believe and feel about this, I wrote a lot of fuzzy stuff about how much I love beets and lemon curd, and peppered it with quaint recipes that people seem to really like. I can now see this as a stepping stone to putting my heart and passion out there — both of which are a lot more political and a lot less fuzzy. Thanks for helping me to see this!

  7. Libbey Paul says:

    Great message. My biggest risk-taking moment was when I left the safe confines of corporate life 7+ years ago. I’ve been following the energy ever since, experiencing cycles of failure and triumph.

    Now is the time for some bigger risks. I’m tired of playing small.

  8. Sara says:

    Anna, gorgeous complimentary post to Amy’s that I read on Jenny Shih’s website yesterday! I see you to as two Super Heros who meet up with red wine in hand and a magic wand. LOVE both of your verve and no-nonsense-ness.

    Thank you! This was the perfect read for me today!

  9. Lyn says:

    You said it: Risk is risky. I’ve been dancing around it, meeting it head on at times and avoiding it completely at others. I so love hearing someone tell the TRUTH about taking risk IRL style, “Warning! This advice could be hazardous to…”. Don’t misunderstand; I am not making a case for not taking risk. I am supporting the case for full disclosure. I was one of those people who tried to take my first high dive at the Olympics when encouraged to take risk over twenty years ago. Splat! Some of my body parts are missing from THAT one! Since then, I have learned about the need to train and gradually build the risk muscle. I’ll be in training the rest of my life. I’ve also learned that the risk muscle will weaken almost overnight if it isn’t constantly challenged. (no free vacations for this gal!) However, I am aware that I having been fighting my constant challenge. It is to take risk without having someone to hold the faith when I am a puddle of mud, or having a close group of friends I can turn to when I have totally missed the shot, fallen flat on my ass, or embarrassed myself to a point of wanting total plastic surgery, including a new ID. Why is this? Because turning to someone else to hold the faith about who I am becoming hasn’t worked for me. No one knows who I am becoming, at least not the people I know. They just want to know why I would do such a silly stupid thing in the first place. I want the strength and knowledge to build within me. I think that I am at an age and stage to grow more muscle to meet the challenge of removing a training wheel from my rear tire and stop turning to other people who can’t be something they are not. I want the inner me to become loud enough to hear over the wailing of the pain of failure. This may upset or confuse some of you, if you misunderstand. I am not advocating aloneness or hiding what I do. Believe me, it is out there for everyone to see! Sometimes life situations ask you to either stand on your own or lean on others that stand on unsteady ground: Another splat! Take your pick. I will be open and seek others that have a spirit for growth, and I love camaraderie and sharing experiences. I can hear so much that is similar, yet different. People who have joined together such as Amy and Anna know what they are doing when they support each other. This is awesome! Thank you for adding to my day.

  10. Hi everyone! Thanks for your lovely comments! So glad to know that this message resonated with you guys.

    Bridgette, I agree– those vulnerable conversations are a beautiful thing.

    Those of you who are beating yourself up for taking risks ‘under cover of darkness’– I think it’s great!! There’s a balance, I think, between being bold, yet letting our most tender, vulnerable sprouts bloom in safety until they’re strong enough to weather the elements on their own.

    I’m all for building our muscles slowly and honoring our process. And then when the big urge comes, to leap! And fall on our asses! And live through it and be okay with muddy asses sometimes.

    Love this conversation– thanks, everyone!


  11. Hey beauteous ones!!!

    Okay, so I was supposed to pick a single winner who’d receive Love Letters From Your Life, which is a 30-day coaching program that arrives in your inbox every day with a tiny 3-minute exercise to help woo you into a delicious love affair with your life. (You can see a description of the program at

    I never was very good at choosing.

    So EVERYONE who commented here wins the program!! Woohooooo!!! Just email, say you won Love Letters in this giveaway, and we’ll hook you up!

    La la la love…


  12. Nichole says:

    Hi Anna,

    Just recently experienced this one! I love your statement: Nobody goes to the Olympics and does their first high dive on live TV. I had an employer that would disagree with you on that one. In fact, I did not stand up for myself by not accepting the assignment she handed me and I failed epically. I even told myself something along the lines of what you stated but when you’re hurting its not enough to soothe the wounds.

    Thank you for your insight; I needed someone else to just say it too! Makes all the difference. Next time when I feel uncomfortable and am unable to ask questions of an employer its a tell-tale sign that something in their approach is amiss and to listen to my inner guidance.

    I will be watching your blog!

    ~<3 N

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