No Risk No Progress

You’ve undoubtedly heard the expression nothing ventured nothing gained. In other words, no risk no progress. We simply have to take chances to progress.

But I Don’t Like Risk

Actually I believe most people are basically risk averse. Quite frankly risks can be scary, especially if you have no way to effectively manage them. But, I suspect much of the fear people associate with risk has to do with bad past experiences. However, if carefully reviewed, many of those bad experiences can be seen to be the result of taking foolish risks. That is quite different from intelligent risk taking.

In intelligent risk taking the potential upsides generally far outweigh the potential downsides, and even the downsides often can be minimized. For example, jumping out of a plane at 15,000 feet with no parachute or glide suit in hopes that you will land safely would fall in the category of a foolish risk. The potential upside of people applauding your bravery is far outweighed by the risk of serious injury or death. On the other hand, skydiving in tandem with a trained and experienced dive instructor really carries minimal risk in comparison to the upside enjoyment of what may well just be a once-in-a-lifetime event that you share with others. But, let’s consider some more subtle examples.

Business Risk and Reward

Imagine you want to start a business selling recreational products. If you just go out and sign a lease for a store and start stocking it with bikes, skate boards, hover boards, baseball equipment, etc. yet fail to research your market carefully before doing so, you are taking a foolish risk. If, on the other hand, you carefully research the recreation market and identify a niche within it that is underserved and which you can easily reach, this may be a very reasonable risk, Of course, there are numerous other things you will need to research, but I think you get the point; do the legwork to minimize your risk.

The truth is that success is always tied to some level of risk. For example, if you are not willing to risk your chances with your own business but opt instead to work for others, whether you realize it or not you are taking a risk. What if your employer goes out of business, or has layoffs that impact you? What if you get a new boss that you simply cannot seem to get along with and find yourself looking for a new job? Life is simply not risk free. Even as an employee that adage no risk no progress rings true; the risks are just different. If you want to progress and get ahead but are afraid to take any risks you will forever remain frustrated.


Life is Not Meant to be Risk Free

No matter how badly you may want to avoid risks at all costs, it is simply not possible. You are better off to accept that reality and then set about managing your risks in line with your risk tolerance. That way you can decide what risks you are willing to take in light of the potential rewards and pitfalls. Even when you sometimes suffer some of the setbacks you still have the opportunity to start fresh. Perhaps you will have learned some valuable lessons to help you succeed the next time. But, no matter what you do in your work life, remember no risk no progress.

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As always, your comments are welcomed.


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