My Dad has a led a life full of contradictions – I hear he was a wild man as a Phi in the mid-‘60s at the University of Alabama and I’ve seen shocking photos of all-night escapades in New Orleans during Sugar Bowl weekends in the 1970s. He’s solid as a rock beneath that wild exterior, though: my Mom and he have been married since they were 17; he’s worked hard and long to provide a beautiful, stable home for us. He’s an accountant who ran his own practice for decades. Every CPA joke you know applies. In many ways, he’s extremely risk-averse.
One of my Dad’s hobbies these days, though, is high-stakes gambling. Football and blackjack seem to be his games of choice… Mom says he lasted 12 minutes in his first Las Vegas tournament – she was running a little late getting to the tables and by the time she arrived he’d already folded.
I’ve learned something from growing up with my Dad. His bundle of contradictions actually add up to a pretty clear belief: Be willing to bet it all. That doesn’t mean either of us will bet more than we can afford to lose. It doesn’t mean we’re gonna lose the farm, either.
From my Dad I’ve learned to assess risk and weigh the odds. I’ve learned that the biggest rewards come from the biggest bets; they require a level of risk many people never take. The last few years have been full of huge risks and even bigger rewards for me – I left an unhappy marriage and changed jobs and towns a couple times, met new people, traveled the world, fell in love again. Selling everything and moving to Europe was probably the biggest risk; it yielded unimaginable rewards.
Some of life’s most perfect moments are born out of risk, parasailing over the Atlantic is like that, so is giving birth, or even getting married a second time around. I believe the biggest payoffs in life come when the stakes are high. I believe in knowing my limits, assessing the risk and then being willing to bet it all.