The risks of not taking a risk

And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more. Erica Jong

We are all familiar with fence sitters who believe that they are very safe by not committing to anyone and thereby taking minimum risks of annoying anyone or being held responsible for any decisions.  On the face of it the strategy looks good, but in reality when the mud settles, the fence sitter has a status almost akin to that of a traitor and for no one trusts him/ her. This is just one of the many downsides of being risk averse. Each day brings about a fresh set of challenges and there are risks of varying degrees every moment. Obviously it is human nature to avoid all risks possible and to venture only if there is reasonable chance of mitigating the risks. However in a fast paced world the changes taking place are stupendous and we cannot simply wait and watch; this means we have to commit and that is a risk by itself.

Making a commitment is the ultimate test of risk taking. This is because once the commitment is made there is no turning back and even if things are going downhill, we cannot make a U turn and reverse the pledges made. Commitments are made based on certain understanding, certain assumptions and a whole lot of trust. A misunderstanding can prove costly, as will a wrong assumption and a breach of trust will fully negate the original commitment but those committed cannot turn tail for there might not be any escape route or exit provided for. In today’s day and age, one of the biggest commitment is the marriage wows. The world wide statistics show that the divorce rate is fast catching up with the marriage rate; thereby showcasing the big blot on the institution of marriage. The risks in marrying as so real that today pre nuptial agreements have become a hedge against the risk of marriage.

If we observe those actively trading in the stock markets we would notice that they are driven by the urge to take risks. No doubt the lure of filthy profits is the key motivator for the stock traders but it is their craving to take the risks and beat the odds that really stimulates them. Someone on a losing spree, is often tempted to risk double his money in order to recoup the losses. This is an extremely risky strategy but by not taking that risk, the chances of recouping are almost negligible. A venture capitalists on the other hand has perfected the art of risk taking. They see opportunity in radical ideas, new technology, innovative strategies etc. and they study it in depth before taking the risk of funding some of these concepts. Venture capitalists are very clear that unless they take calculated risks they cannot function. However they are also clear that they need to spread their risks and so they fund a slew of identified ideas knowing fully well that a couple of them will fail, but they are confident that the vast majority will be hugely profitable and their risks are well managed.

In our own lives some of the most risky decisions pertain to our educational choices, career choices, marriage, family, retirement plans etc. It is imperative to note that whatever the reasoning or ultimate decision we are taking a risk. In most cases we have the freedom and choice to take the decisions but if we don’t, then the risks are almost certainly thrust on us by circumstances or fate. Why leave that risk to chance when we have the opportunity to take calculated risks?

Remember: “Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash.”  General George S. Patton

Try this:

  1. Make a list of things you are passionate about but never attempted. Choose one of the items and work out a plan of action to indulge in it and if possible take it up passionately. E.g. Learning to waltz or playing the trumpet or running a marathon
  2. To get a first hand feel of risks go once to a casino or a derby or an auction and participate in it to the best of your ability. Be aware that you risk money but perhaps you will also experience the adrenaline flowing when your stakes are high.

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One thought on “The risks of not taking a risk

  1. Dear Bobby,

    Risk must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

    The Person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.

    Enjoyed your post today.

    K.R. Rajesh

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