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Getting risk-fit with Ashoka Fellow Gerald Koller


by ashokaaustria

Today, let us learn more about our Fellow Gerald Koller and his approaches to cope with (and embrace) risk for Everyone.

Gerald is Ashoka Fellow since 2011. He believes that risk is not something that we can/should simply avoid. Risk is something we should be able to handle in a responsible way. Gerald has thus developed tools to support people on their journey of getting risk-fit.


How he does that and what risks we are talking about we will elaborate on, in the following.

Saying goodbye to old patterns and welcoming new ones comes along with a certain risk. However, this does not mean that we should always stick to what we are used to. Our environment is constantly changing, which makes it not only necessary for us to be able to adapt but also to actively shape the world we are living in. A society of equals needs empowered individuals who stand up to have an impact and shape the world. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi this means: “Be the change you want to see in the world”. This certainly involves some risk but it also allows us to combat injustice and oppression. Hence, to grow as a society and as individuals it is crucial to take some risks. Gerald shares his vast experience to empower people to figure out which journey is worth being embarked on and how to return successfully from it.

Just like all of us, kids need to take risks in their lives. Their journey of getting risk-fit has not been as long as the one of an elderly and hence they might sometimes take risks that seem to be thoughtless or even silly. Gerald does not try to shelter today’s youth from all risks that are out there. There are some risks, though, which might lead to danger. Therefore, he encourages kids (and everyone else) to think first about the consequences of taking certain risks before jumping right into it. One of his approaches to achieve this is parkour. Parkour is a sport at which one has to get as efficiently as possible from point A to B just by using her own body. Suddenly the link between an action and its consequences gets obvious and immediate. By taking certain risks, traceurs (people doing parkour) can climb walls they never thought they were able to climb. But they can also get bumps and bruises, which they are still going to feel when they go to sleep at night. Would you jump down a wall, three meters high, before you have thought about how to land? If yes, certainly not twice. In sessions after the instructed parkour trainings, Gerald and his peers work with the kids to go beyond the borders of the sport. The goal is to apply the learnings on ‘conscious decision-making before taking a risk’ to other spheres of the participants’ lives. As in parkour this doesn’t mean that everyone who has worked with Gerald will remain without blisters and bruises for the rest of their life. But if we learn to balance pros and cons before making decisions, it shelters us from some scratches and, at the same time, allows us to go on journeys that are worth to be taken.


As the kids when doing parkour, we all need to learn to think about the consequences before taking a risk. Listening to people having done parkour will show us what great satisfaction it can bear to overcome barriers we never thought we could. Overcoming apartheid was certainly a risky challenge. Yet no one will deny the fruits this carries for people in South Africa and all around the world, up to today. Collectively, we can take risks and hence challenge the status quo. Gerald illustrates that we all know how to take risks and succeed in utmost difficult situations. For sure, we need to get out of our comfort zones, and it is not always easy or fun but being aware of our current situation, future alternatives and strategies to achieve these alternatives will help us to seek for the change we want to see in the world.

Gerald has many years of experience in getting risk-fit. In his presentations, books and seminars he shares this experience with us to enable us to decide, which risks can be taken, must be taken, and must not be taken.

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