By Carine Clark, Executive Board Member of Silicon Slopes.
This article was originally published in the Spring 2017 edition of Silicon Slopes Magazine.
Why does the word “risk” scare us so much? Maybe because it’s risky? Why are we so afraid to make mistakes when we learn more from our mistakes than from any of our successes? Why do we feel so unsettled with disruption, when disruption gives us an opportunity for growth and new opportunities? Maybe it’s time we changed our lens on how we look at risk and disruption.
When we think of risk we often associate it with grim outcomes or the possibility of something unfavorable happening. When we think of disruption we think of something turning our world upside down. I’ve heard many people say, “I just don’t want anything to change.” Unfortunately, the only thing that never changes is that things always change.
But what if we started looking at the world differently. What if we looked at risk as an adventure — something that we haven’t tried before. Something that might teach us new ideas and give us valuable scar tissue that we would come to love? For years I had wanted to take my family of four to Africa. Everyone told me that I was crazy. They said it was too dangerous, you’ll get eaten by something that doesn’t live here. You’ll get kidnapped. You’ll get murdered. None of these outcomes were interesting to me. But I really wanted my sons to see massive herds of elephants, white rhinos, and the splendor that is Africa all without any wifi. We were smart about the trip; we didn’t take any foolish risks. And we had the trip of a lifetime. It was the grandest adventure — one that we will never forget and still talk about.
Risk is also a chance — the possibility of something happening, maybe even something wonderful. Stop stopping yourself. Take the chance. Meet the new person. Pick up a new hobby. Try new things. Relish in the joy of trying something new, even when it doesn’t work out as you expect, even if you are terrible at it. I just got my HAM radio license and I’m terrible at it but it inspired my 75-year-old father to not only get his license but get the highest amateur certification and he loves it. He’s talking to people in New Zealand!
What if we taught ourselves a couple of tricks? No matter what happens, what if we asked ourselves 2 questions:
What’s the worst thing that can happen?
Can I survive it?
No matter what happens, you can usually survive it. I know people who have had some pretty horrific things happen to them and they have survived. Those two questions help us understand our worst fear, then keep some perspective that we can survive it. We are stronger than we know.
What if you decided today, “Nothing is hard for me?” And you truly believed it, and whenever something risky happened or some disruption landed in your lap you’d say to yourself, “Well it’s a good thing that nothing is hard for me.” Imagine your world then, you’d embrace every disruption and tackle every obstacle with gusto.
The iconic Peter Drucker put it into perspective, “People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.” Maybe we should take more risks. Fortes fortuna adiuvat — Fortune favors the bold. Let’s be bold.
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