By Dr. Judd Biasiotto
When I was working with the Kansas City Royals Baseball team my roommate Branch B. Rickey III met a guy who was willing to let us buy into a condominium project that was being constructed in Florida. The deal was that we could purchase up to ten condominiums at a price of $10,000 a piece. At the time $10,000 was a pretty good chuck of money, but the deal was extraordinary. If everything went as planned there was a good chance that we could double or triple our money in no time. Still there was a risk - there is always a risk. At the time the area was fairly underdeveloped, consequently there was a chance that the condominiums would not rent or sell. Also because it was beachfront property the taxes were extremely high. Unlike Branch, I didn't have the money to invest longitudinally. I would have to borrow the money at a fairly high interest rate and then hope that I could turn the property over in a short period of time. Otherwise, I would lose a lot of money. It wasn't exactly a sure thing. Believe me, I lost a lot of sleep deliberating over that decision. In the end I decided against making the investment. I was afraid I would lose too much money if things did not work out.
Every time I think of that decision I could kick my butt. In less then five years those condominiums were selling for more than $100,000. Today they are worth over a quarter of million dollars apiece. If I had taken that chance I would probably be lying on the beach in the Bahamas with two chicks beside me. Instead I'm sitting here talking to you. I guess there is a silver lining to every cloud ... Hey! That's a joke! The point I'm trying to make is that if you are not willing to take a chance in life you will never know the magic you can create. When you are trying to gain something in life you have to be willing to lose something. There is just no other way around it.
You know, there's one thing I'm certain of - if you don't have the guts to put yourself on the line now and then, your chance of success is limited. I firmly believe that in order to reach the top, an athlete - or anyone else for that matter - has to know how to live on the edge. He has to enjoy the element of risk and danger a little. I'm not talking about taking needless senseless, incalculable risks. Like running with the bulls or attempting a five hundred pound squat when your personal best is three hundred pounds, which proves nothing except that you have the brain of an infant. What I'm talking about is intelligent, calculated risk-taking in which the action in question is a risk that has a legitimate cost-reward relationship.
Let me give you a prime example of what I am talking about. A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to hear a presentation by Tom Dorsey, a stock market guru. I sat there for three straight hours listening to this guy lecture on stock charting. I was totally spellbound by his presentation. I didn't understand a damn word he said, but I loved every minute of it. Believe me he is that gifted a speaker. One thing I did grasp though was that the stock market, like sports betting, is risky business. It offends people who love security and predictability. This is an area were a lot of mistakes are made. It is certainly not a business for the faint at heart unless you can predict the future. Actually, that's what Dorsey does he predicts the future. In fact, it has been said that he is the Nostradamus of the stock market. How does he do it? Intelligent risk-taking, that's how! Through hard work Dorsey became an expert in reading and tracking the history of specific stocks each and every day. By studying the history of stocks he became a master at foreseeing and predicting the future price of those stocks with incredible accuracy. Sure, he makes mistakes now and then, but overall he has an extreme high accuracy rate. By taking calculated risks Dorsey has forged out a multimillion-dollar business for himself in an extremely high-risk industry
As I've already mentioned, I believe that in order to reach the pinnacle in your field you have to learn to live on the edge, to enjoy the element of risk and danger - at least to a reasonable degree. Look back through the annals of time and I think you'll find that people who had the courage to take a chance, who faced their fears head on, were those who shaped history. The people who played it safe, who were afraid to take a risk, well ... have you ever heard of them? I love what Theodore Roosevelt said about this very issue. He says:
"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who Is actually In the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again because there Is no effort without error and shortcomings, who knows the great devotion, who spends himself In a worthy cause, who at the best knows In the end the high achievement of triumph and who at worst, if he falls while daring greatly, knows his place shall never be with those timid and cold souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
Sports are full of great physical specimens, but there is a real shortage when it comes to athletes who are willing to play their game with reckless abandon, and athletes who are willing to put themselves and their careers on the line. Those that do are usually the ones at the top.
Let me tell you about Ted Arcidi. In case you have never met him, he's one of the biggest and most powerful human beings on the planet. I swear his anterior deltoids look like bowling balls and the middle of his back is like a drainage ditch. I'm serious, his back is so deep that I could crawl inside of it and take a bath. His chest, arms, and legs are just as massive. In short, his physical stature is almost beyond comprehension. Believe me, if Arcidi hit you on the top of the head, you would be eating through your fly for a month. What really sets Arcidi apart though, is not his physical awesomeness, but rather his mental toughness. He has a will that could bend tempered steel. Once he sets his mind to something, there is no turning him back. I remember when he was training to break the seven hundred pound barrier in the bench press, a feat that was considered impossible at the time. He went to his father and told him that he was going to drop out of dental school so that he could train for the "lift." Of course, his father flipped out. In fact, he kicked Ted out of his house. Actually, you really couldn't blame his Dad. After all, he had invested over ten thousand dollars in Ted's education, and like I mentioned, 700 pounds in a bench press at that time seemed a little ridiculous. The world record was only 633 pounds. Ted was probably the only guy in the world who thought the lift was possible. Anyhow, after he got kicked out of his Dad's house, he rented a cellar in Newton, Massachusetts, to live in. It was primitive at best. Ted called it "the catacomb." The floor and walls were constructed of stone and there were no windows in the place. At night it would get so cold in the cellar that he would have to sleep on the screen porch in the backyard under the stars. Actually, the only thing he had in the cellar was a small gas heater, a couch, and an old fashion chain-drawn toilet. He could cook his meals on the gas stove and he took his showers at the gym. To say the least it was a Spartan existence. Most guys would have said, "To hell with this," and gone back home. Not Arcidi; instead, he looked at his situation as something positive. "My living conditions were great," he said. "It gave me a chance to really focus on my goal." And focus he did. If there was anything else significant going on in the world at that time Arcidi was definitely unaware of it. He was totally riveted on his one objective - 700 pounds. He was going to make that lift come hell or high water. Nothing was going to stop him.
Well, to make a long story short Arcidi succeeded in his quest to become the first man in the world to bench press 700 pounds. Because Arcidi had the courage to put himself and his career on the line, he was able to go beyond himself and into the stars. He went beyond the boundaries of what most men believed was possible. For an athlete, there is no moment more precious in life. It is the so-called "white moment" - the moment in time that an athlete trains a lifetime to experience. There is no amount of money, no amount of power, or status and no position in life that can equal the experience. It's totally awesome.
Of course, Arcidi took a big chance to achieve greatness, but everything in life is a risk. I want to read something to you that I found in the book, Chicken Soup.
To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out for another is to risk Involvement.
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas, your dreams before the crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To hope is to risk despair. To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing and is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live.
Chained by his own fears, he is a slave.
He has forfeited freedom.
Only a person who risks is free!
That last line really gets me because it's so true. If you're not willing to risk, you have nothing - no growth, no change, no freedom. And when that happens, you are no longer involved in living; for all practical purposes you have no life - you're dead, you just don't know it. So RISK for God's sake. Be a part of life. You have the power to be or do anything you want. You can produce miracles if you have a mind to. You have the magic, you just have to tap into it. Get in touch with it, make things happen, live - journey to the stars, push on to new galaxies. If you don't you will never know your GREATNESS!
Yours in Strength,