A Rationale for Taking on Challenges

Shrijith Venkatramana
2 min readApr 28


What follows is a case for taking on challenges or trying to overcome obstacles; and why avoiding challenges is a spiralling path to hell.

The classic adage says: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”

However, the more realistic version of the adage is: “Nothing ventured, penalty paid”

There is an enormous cost to avoiding taking on challenges

A more positive phrasing of the idea is from the Ice Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky:

“You miss 100% of the shots you never take”

Other formulations of the same idea:

“You can’t score if you don’t shoot”

“You can’t hit the ball if you don’t swing”

What is missing in most of the above expressions is the tragic loss related to avoiding the shot.

Life imposes huge penalties on those who avoid taking on challenges: disappointment, poverty, loss, alienation, and disgrace.

In most cases, avoiding the challenge means guaranteed defeat, 100% failure without doubt.

Whether one takes on the challenge, or not, there are difficulties involved.

Business is challenging. So is employment or unemployment.

Building and maintaining wealth is challenging. So is living in poverty.

Managing relations and activities is challenging. So is living in seclusion.

Rigorous exercise is challenging. But so is consequences of lethargy, such as disease.

Learning and studying are challenging activities. But so are the disastrous consequences of ignorance.

Rigorous work is challenging; but so are the consequences of trifling entertainment and low-value activities.

The bottom-line is: challenge cannot be avoided.

Those possessing intelligence will consciously pick the challenges, they will pick potential for reward.

The less intelligent will be imposed with various challenges against their will, since they refused to take on the challenge.

Challenge means potential win; avoidance means guaranteed penalty.

So, in all things, it is best to expect challenges, to choose challenges, and when in rare cases nature rewards our efforts, it is best to enjoy the results.

Avoiding challenges guarantees that nature will impose difficulties and force us to pay penalties.