How do the risks we take-no matter how carefully considered-affect those around us? And how do those ripples created by our risk affect and inform our willingness to take the risks in the first place?
What, in other words, are the roles of our loved ones, families, business associates in deciding to take-or avoid-even the most appealing of risks?
Have you ever avoided a risk because of those ripples? Did you accept that avoidance as an unavoidable aspect of living “in the world” or did you resent the restrictions that the outer world imposed on you-or that you imposed on yourself?
Managing risk is managing probabilities. What are the chances of getting the desired result versus the chances of missing it? Each of us has a difference tolerance for risk and varying degrees of analyzing it.
On one end of the continuum is the risk taker who leaps without looking – either trusting for the best or not really caring. This is characterized by reckless behavior.
On the other end is the risk taker who has suffered from “analysis paralysis” from time to time. This person weighs the advantages and disadvantages – and sometimes, this person never makes a decision for fear of the risk going awry.
As in most things in life, a healthy medium is likely the best policy. Weigh things carefully, and weigh things that matter very carefully. Reality check your decisions and risk analysis with trusted colleagues, friends and advisors. Notice the areas in your life where you might be living close to one end of the continuum or the other, and adjust accordingly to the middle.
One of the ways to understand another human being is to observe her or his relationship to risk and reward. Kahlil Gibran said, “To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to.”
Risk is inherent in every part of the human condition from being a parent to climbing Mount Everest. The rewards we create are generally directly proportionate to the amount of risk we take. Yet, it doesn’t seem appropriate to glorify mountain climbing over parenting or painting or getting in shape, for example, just because mountain climbing is more dangerous — that is, because it has more physical risk.
How do you feel about risking your heart and mind in service of something that you care about deeply? How do you personally assess the relationship between risk and reward? Where did you learn how to do that? Are you risking enough to get the rewards you want?
Among the best-known quotes about risk is this observation by author, Anais Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more powerful than the risk it took to blossom.”
We humans have spent so much time protecting our assumptions of safety that we have often lost sight of the possibility of phenomenal fulfillment if we take the risks of going for our personal and professional dreams.
Nin is saying that there is often a greater harm in seeking safety than in taking the risk to experience life fully.
What is your history in adventuring in the human condition? What kinds of risk have you avoided? What are the costs of your avoidance? How have you seen risk avoidance behavior in your life and the lives of those around you?