Are you a risk taker?
Are you the first to sign up for the bungee jump, skydive, or scuba dive in a cage with the Great Whites?
Do you relish the thought of taking yourself waaaaaay beyond your comfort zone for the thrill of it all, loving the adrenaline and dopamine rush?
Or are you somewhat more cautious? You’re not going to be swayed by some slick marketing or your friend’s unfettered enthusiasm to do a bungee jump. You want to weigh up all the pros and the cons, do your due diligence and seek trusted advice before throwing caution to the wind and making that decision.
Let’s be real. Risk-taking has never been without risks.
But does it feel like the world is getting increasingly unstable, dangerous even? With global pandemics, the threat of global recession, climate change and the rising cost of everything, it’s little surprise that you have been feeling a bit more uncertain, anxious, or even fearful.
Is this making you more careful in your appraisals before deciding, weighing up all the pros and cons and in sometimes choosing not to take that risk?
Yeah, yeah, but Jenny don’t you remember what happened to Icarus?
He learnt the hard way about flying too close to the sun.
In the Greek myth, in his desire to fly as high as he could (why wouldn’t you, if you too had wings?) Icarus flew too close to the sun causing his waxen wings to melt, and plummeting out of the sky to his death.
Silly boy. Yes, but in The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin, the rest of the myth is revealed.
Icarus had been warned by his father Daedalus not to fly too close to the sun, OR the sea. Wet wings don’t fly well either.
Taking a risk to fly as high as you can, could be seen as too big a risk. But isn’t playing it too safe and staying in your comfort zone dangerous too?
Because staying stuck doesn’t prepare you for the changes heading your way.
And there will always be change.
In situations where process and ritual are king, conformity and compliance is fine.
But in the corporate world maintaining a competitive advantage requires continuous innovation and rapid adaptation to avoid becoming irrelevant and outdated in your thinking or behaviours.
Which means being willing to take a risk.
Making risk work for you is about taking smart risks because this is what brings about
- Enhanced personal and professional development. You gain mastery in your chosen field and become recognised for your expertise.
- Greater innovation and insight
- Satisfaction of achieving something you weren’t quite sure you could pull off. Hi-Five! Now you’re seeing the results.
- It shifts you towards a possibility mindset, accepting that risk is always part of taking action for something you believe in and want to do.
- Making risk-taking more fun!
In his book Taking Smart Risks Doug Sundheim extols us to shift our perception of risk-taking from being something fundamentally potentially dangerous.
Try instead to look at risk as a means of liberating yourself from your fears and adopting a more balanced focus on what could be.
Now you’re in the Smart Risk Zone.
According to Sondheim, staying in the Smart-Risk Zone requires you to,
- Have something worth fighting for, that you’re passionate about. Keep it simple, and inspiring
- See the future now. What are the real risks, obstacles, and concerns? Be honest.
- Work quickly and act. Start before you’re ready, fail early if it’s going to happen, learn and move forward again. Smart failing is a wonderful teacher.
- Communicate powerfully. Share ideas, thinking and expect kickback and challenge. Engage in robust conversations
- Create a smart risk culture. Define the boundaries for smart risk-taking, within which it is acceptable to fail. Reward successes and smart failures because there are lessons to be learned from both.
What’s true for you?
Are you someone who likes to play in the Smart Risk Zone?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Dr Jenny Brockis is a board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, keynote speaker, trainer and best-selling author. Her new book Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life (Wiley) is available for purchase.
If psychological safety, burnout prevention and mental wellbeing is something you’d like to find out more about, please contact me to set up a time for a chat.