Taking risks


Take calculated risks.  That is quite different from being rash. General George S. Patton

None of us can ever lead a risk free life. The reality is that at every turn we encounter a measure of risk but very often the quantum of risk is too minuscule for us to be aware of it. There is a risk that our food is poisonous, there is risk of being involved in an accident while traveling, our undisciplined lifestyle makes us prone to a variety of ailments and life style diseases and simply worrying about the risks brings about the possibility of stress related problems like heart attacks, high blood pressure etc. Almost all these risks come uninvited and often unknowingly. Yet there are many risks that we take consciously, like changing jobs, making investments in the stock market, chucking a salaried job to start a business venture etc. Funnily enough many of us honed our skills of risk taking during our formative years by doing last minute studies, cutting classes, telling lies to cover up our misdeeds and copying in exams.

The concept of risk therefore is not alien to anyone. However the conscious realization of the risks that we face and continue to face may perhaps be an eye opener.  What is more important is knowing that there are levels of risk and the concept of varying probability of a risk being triggered. For a naturally brilliant student not studying for the exams may not be as risky as it would be for a duffer. Similarly for someone suffering from diabetes, not controlling the sugar intake is extremely risky but not exercising daily may not be taking too much of a risk for a person who all along has a good health record.  Since there are varying degrees of risk, one needs to be aware of the consequences of the risk and the probability of the risk being triggered when one has to take decisions.

A calculated risk is one where the person taking the risk has weighed the pros and cons of the action before pursuing a particular line of action. The idea of calculated risk is that the payoff for the risk taken is very much higher than the risk taken. Eg. The whole concept of gambling is based on this and higher  odds are given for riskier bets. In a calculated risk the probability of the risk actually taking place is perceived to be very very low and that is the reason one is willing to take the risk. This does not mean that the risk is mitigated and in very unfortunate circumstances the risk might be realized and the consequences very costly. Eg. If the world number 1 in tennis is playing the world number 100 the probability of the former winning is almost 100% yet in some freak cases there can be major upsets. On the other hand there are people who because of their brashness or foolhardiness make rash claims almost all of which are near impossible. Rashness is paying no heed to the reality and pursing a near fatal line of action. Eg. Betting a substantial amount of money on the world number 100 to win, simply because he happens to be your country man.

What is interesting is that because the payoffs for taking calculated risks are fairly high, one would notice that most successful people in the world have achieved success by taking calculated risks. Michael Dell for example took a very calculated risk when he changed the rules of selling computer hardware. The pioneers in any field have always been people who took calculated risks and had strong self belief . A calculated risk is always an educated risk because it is not off the cuff but the result of careful study, analysis and with a clear road map to proceed ahead. As yourself if you are taking calculated risks in your life be it as simple as changing your life style or something more adventurous as indulging in your passion for skydiving or river rafting. If your heart is not in what you are currently doing, ask yourself what you really want to do. Then do a risk reward analysis, do a personal profiling to ensure that you can execute what you set out to do and then work out the blue print for execution. Seek professional counseling of need be and when you have ensured that you have reasonably covered all bases take the plunge.

Remember: “He who risks and fails can be forgiven. He who never risks and never fails is a failure in his whole being.”  Paul Tillich

Try this:

  1. Look back at the riskiest things you did during your school and college days. What were the consequences of those risks? Would you have risked doing those things if you did it today? If you had to take those risks again what additional precautions would you take?
  2. If you are given the following two options which of them will you choose and why?
  • Participate in Fear Factor or its Indian equivalent Katron Ka Khiladi       or
  • Being a participant of the Big Brother show or its Indian equivalent Big Boss

This post is courtesy www.actspot.com

You are also invited to visit our WEEKLY Inspirational and Motivational Blog www.poweract.blogspot.com

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