Three Fathoms Observatory
Stewart Yeung








                                                                                                                                                                                                Life Contemplation





The Role of Risk-taking in Life

Risk-taking is an essential ingredient in human self-fulfillment. While we always try to be well-prepared for a future job, we are sometimes caught unprepared or are ill-equipped when confronted by new challenging situations. To venture into higher levels of life with a view to fostering growth, it is essential that we take risk and overcome whatever obstacles are lying ahead.

Most of our human potentials are underdeveloped due to our self-limiting tendencies. To counter this tendency we have to choose action as against inaction from time to time. These adventurous choices stretch our abilities by learning to perform novel developmental tasks. As such risk-taking is an integral and intrinsic part of living a full life.


Handling the Negative Emotions

Risk-taking implies a certain probabilities of negative consequences such as failure, accidents, casualties or even death so naturally it arouses negative emotions of anticipatory anxiety, fear, hurt feelings, embarrassment, loss, rejection, insecurity, regret, ... When taking risks, uncertainty itself is always hard to face.

To overcome these negative emotions, one has to fully acknowledge the significance of the risky events from the perspective of the total life cycle. By taking risk and completing the essential developmental tasks, we could overcome the limitation of an existing life structure and enjoy the rewards of a new life structure, such as growth in our emotional maturity, career development, character-building, self-confidence, or just a deeper sense of oneself. All of these can elevate our life to a higher, more fulfilled level.

One technique in handling the negative emotions is to keep reminding ourselves that the accompanied anxiety, fear, hurt feelings, embarrassment, loss, rejection, insecurity, regret, etc. will surely pass away soon enough, while the rewards of the new life structure could last for the whole life.


Minimizing It in Risky Life Decisons

Most of us are risk-averters. Whenever a life decision involving various degrees of risk is confronting us, there are ways of minimizing it :

1. assessing the uncertainty and potential dangers and choose to take the risk or not; once a decision is made to go ahead, reduce the risk as much as possible

2. balancing one risk against another

3. taking actions to reduce risk

4. modifying the life decison and taking corrective measures on the way



My Experiences of Risk-taking


Age 2 : Walked by myself the first time without clinging to my parents;
Age 21 : Knocked at the door of the HKU Counseling Unit to seek help in my social phobia;
Age 25 : Relinquished a paid job & borrowed money to further study in a foreign country far away from home;
Age 30 : Sought counseling help in emotional problems in the aftermath of my father's death;
Age 33 : Presented my first consultation paper to a District Board & my first paper in Town Planning Board;
Age 35 : Called to date my future wife for the first time ;
Age 42 : Drove a motor boat from Three Fathoms Cove to Sai Kung by myself;
Age 48 : Relinquished a well-paid job and opted for voluntary early retirement;
Age 51 : Spent a handsome amount of money and time to set up an astronomical observatory all by myself;
Age 53 : Agreed to have 2/5 of my lung resected in order to cure my lung cancer;



What Adventures are Lying Ahead ?

Self-limiting tendency breeds stagnation.To counter this self-limiting tendency, a sense of adventure is vital for continuous personal growth. No matter what lies ahead, I'll actively seek challenge and proactively take risks with a view to venturing into higher levels of life and self-fulfillment.



1st Draft in October 2012 by Stewart Yeung 

2nd Draft on 9 October 2012

3rd Draft on 10 October 2012

4th Draft on 16 October 2012




Reference :

"On becoming a person: A therapist's view of psychotherapy" by Carl Rogers, London: Constable, 1961

“The Seasons of a Man’s Life” by Daniel J. Levinson, New York: Alfred A.Knopf, 1985

“Tactics” by Edward de Bono, London: Collins, 1985