Taking Intelligent Risks

Taking risks is an integral part of every aspect of our lives. And while we sometimes fail, it is important to take risks because they make you competitively different, increase the possibility of you enjoying break out success and allows you to learn and adapt to the ever changing environment in which you operate.

Needless to say, the word “risk” conjures up some negative connotations- it implies danger, misfortune, damage, tension, and possible loss. The result of this is that most people are unwilling to take risks, not realizing that by playing it totally safe, overtime, they are marginalizing themselves. In fact, playing it totally safe, as counterintuitive as it sounds is perhaps the riskiest thing you could ever do.

The risk averse among us has failed to realize that risk has an upside. Although the possibility of failure is always lurking, so too are the chances of hitting a big win, gaining increased confidence, higher visibility and so on.

It is really important to know that risks are not just about jumping into the unknown. You have to figure out which risks have a manageable downside, which risks have potential for upside and which ones you can quickly get a sense as to whether or not they wipe you out completely. In other words, all risks are not all equal. Some are just plain dumb and you should never take those. On the other hand, some are intelligent risks. They present a limited downside and a potential upside that is virtually unlimited.

Here are four steps that will help you to take more sensible and calculated risks:

01. Decide what you want to do or achieve

This is the first step to success. Once you have decided on your desired outcome, it’s time to get clear on the impact those outcomes will have on your life.

Here are some important questions to ask yourself:

“What will I potentially gain long-term by taking this risk?”

“What could I potentially lose?

Let me reiterate, there is always the possibility of loss when you take risks but you will often find that you lose very little if anything at all. In fact, if you do lose anything, it will more than likely be superficial in nature. Notwithstanding, it’s important that you don’t obsess over things that you could potentially lose. Focus instead on what could be gained and push towards those outcomes.

02. Remember the lessons from the past

The past always provide lessons that can help you with your current decisions.

Pertinent questions to ask yourself are:

“Have I done this before?”

“What results did I get?”

If this is something you have never done before, you could still draw on lessons from other areas of your life and apply them to this situation. Undoubtedly, you can also draw on the lessons learnt from the experiences of others who have gone down this path before you.

In that case, you should be asking:

“How have others faired?”

“What mistakes were made?”

03. Take action

Once you have completed all the analysis and have decided that this is a risk worth taking; then it is time to act. Taking action; especially when done systematically and in baby steps, creates experiential knowledge, builds confidence and competence which in turn feeds on itself.

04. Evaluate the outcomes

Having completed your action steps, your next move is to evaluate your outcomes and feelings.

It is important to remember that your risks will not always produce the outcomes you expected. In fact sometimes you will fall flat on your face. However, do not get frustrated. Use this evaluation period to make better plans for the future and always keep in mind that the long-term rewards of taking this risk often far out-weigh the long-term pain and regret you will experience by not taking this risk. Questions to ponder:

“What have I learned from this experience?”

“How can I use this experience to help improve my future results?”

The person, who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. In the short term, they may experience disappointments and setbacks, discomfort and pain but undoubtedly will never learn and change and grow nor will they experience that wonderful feeling of knowing they went out on a limb and succeeded. I have a feeling that you are not that person so I challenge you to go for it.

Keep On Pushing!



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