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Go out on a limb? 担风险

中国日报网 2022-10-14 15:13


Reader question:

Please explain this sentence: He will go out on a limb for you.

My comments:

This sounds like someone advocating for a friend, in order to convince “you” that “he” cares about you, that he will do anything for you, that he’ll do it even if he has to take a risk, that he, apparently, loves you very much.

Apparently – because he’s willing to go out on a limb for you.

The phrase to examine, of course, is “out on a limb”. Here, “limb” does not refer to the human limb, an arm or a leg. Instead, it refers to a branch of a tree, which, of course, is limb-like.

Out on a limb?

That means you have climbed high up a tall tree, going farther and farther out on a leaning branch in order to reach for, say, a ripening fruit.

Of course, the farther one is out on a limb (branch), the greater the risk one runs of the branch breaking under one’s weight.

See the picture?

Hence, metaphorically speaking, “out on a limb” becomes synonymous with doing some singular, unusual, difficult, risky and unpopular task.

Hence, and therefore, if someone is willing to go out on a limb for you, they care a lot about you. They will do things other people probably won’t do. They’ll do it even if it may put them in a position of danger.

Or if they might get criticized for it.

And so forth.

All right?

All right, here are media examples of “out on a limb”:

1. One of the foundations of success, is a willingness to go out on a limb. That’s because all meaningful progress is preceded by the decision to take a calculated risk; to go out on a limb and do something.

Starting a family, starting a business, relocating – all of these life changing decisions require us to go out on a limb. One of the oddities of life, is that even though the decisions that lead to the most progress in our lives are preceded by risk, we tend to opt for certainty instead. The pull of the comfort zone is clearly too strong for most to resist.


Mark Twain and going out on a limb

I discovered a wonderful quote from Mark Twain, which describes the importance of going out on a limb far more eloquently than I can.

Here’s what he said: “Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is!”

One of the great ironies in business, is that playing it safe is the riskiest thing we can do. This means a risk averse business owner places an incredibly low ceiling on his or her potential. They reach a plateau with their business no matter how hard they work, because every genuinely valuable opportunity has an element of risk attached. Progress means change. And change means risk.

Here’s an interesting fact:

In over 6000 years of recorded human history, no one has ever achieved anything outstanding by playing it safe. No one. The message is clear. We need to either accept the necessity for calculated risks, or settle for way, way less than we deserve.

So why not go out on a limb, as Mark Twain suggests? At least occasionally. And put yourself within reach of the fruit.

- Mark Twain and going out on a limb, by Jim Connolly, February 6, 2022.

2. Have you ever been in the middle of a tarot reading when, suddenly, an unexpected message pops into your head?

Or maybe you’ve been trying to answer a question, but the reply the cards are offering feels like a slight detour. It is an answer – even an acceptable one – but you’re not quite sure how it fits with the querent’s situation.

It’s not uncommon to feel compelled to deliver a certain message that, to you as the reader, might feel a bit odd or unusual. Not because it’s irrelevant to the sitter (ideally, it should still relate to the context of the reading), but because you’re not sure how fits into the context of your querent’s life.

Tarot readers often have a limited view and understanding of their querents’ situations. Unless you’re reading for someone you know very well, you don’t have much to go on when it comes to the background of a question that’s been posed.

You also won’t necessarily know a querent’s beliefs, comfort zones, or sensitivities. So it can be a bit nerve wracking if you suddenly feel compelled to deliver a message when you’re not sure exactly how it will land with the querent.

This happens to me quite often in my readings.

Sometimes, you just have to go out on a limb and offer an insight that might not make sense to you, but for some reason, you’re driven to say it.

It can take a bit of courage to let yourself go with the flow in a reading. So if you’ve felt uncomfortable doing this, know that that discomfort is a typical learning curve that readers have to embrace.

Sometimes you have to allow yourself to talk it out, and the only way to do that is to start articulating what’s on your mind.

I aim to be as transparent as possible with my querents, and find that openly telling them, “I’m going to go with what I see here, and you can tell me whether it makes sense or not,” is a good way to begin.

Other times, if the mood is right, I will ask, “Can I give you a weird answer?”

No one has said no so far.

- What to Say When You Need to Go Out on a Limb in a Tarot Reading, by Liz Worth, LizWorth.com, May 30, 2022.

3. Tens of thousands of Catalan separatists have rallied in Barcelona.

It is an attempt by the march’s organizers to reignite the independence movement that is fraying as it nears the five-year anniversary of its failed breakaway bid from the rest of Spain.

For the past decade, the September 11 rally held on Catalonia’s main holiday has been the focal point of the north-east region’s separatist movement.

It has drawn in several hundreds of thousands of people clamouring to create a new country out of this corner of the western Mediterranean.

But the unity between pro-independence political parties and the civil society groups that led the October 2017 independence push, which received no international support and was quickly quashed, is in danger of falling apart.

The Catalan National Assembly (ANC), a civil group organizing Sunday’s march, is strongly opposed to the talks that the Catalan government is holding with Spain’s central government in Madrid.

The influential organization says it has lost faith in political parties and is ready to move on without them toward a new attempt at breaking with Spain.

That led Catalonia’s regional president, Pere Aragones, to announce he will be the first Catalan president to not attend the annual march, which separatists have used as a show of force.

Dolors Feliu, the president of ANC, told The Associated Press (AP) she hopes Sunday’s rally will serve as a wake-up call for Mr Aragones to cease negotiations with the central government since she is convinced that, if left to Spain, Catalonia will never be free.

“We understand that it has to be the people on the street and the institutions committed to independence who achieve independence and that the Spanish state will oppose us,” Ms Feliu said.

“If we wait for the approval of the Spanish state, we won’t get anywhere.”


Historian Enric Ucelay-Da Cal, author of several books on Catalonia and its separatist movement, says this marks the low point of the current push.

I think the whole movement is out on a limb,” Mr Ucelay-Da Cal told the AP.

“I don’t see the association movement being able to lead any better than the parties have done, because none of them are facing the real facts.

“They are not sizing up who they are. They are saying, ‘We are everybody’.”

- Catalan separatists rally – with movement fraying five years on, IrishExaminer.com, September 11, 2022.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣   编辑:丹妮)


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Finger pointing? 公开指责


Jump through a hoop? 赴汤蹈火


Edge of your seat? 兴奋得坐不住

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