We put ourselves at risk every waking (and sometimes sleeping) moment of the day. If we didn’t, we’d stay rooted in one spot forever. Indeed, when the result of our risk-taking is not to our liking, we use the expression, “I should have stayed in bed”. Many people seem to “stay in bed” all their lives because they do not take any risks in their lives, personal or professional. An old saying is “Without risk, life has no meaning”. It’s as true as “If one has not known sadness, he cannot know happiness”. Actually we put ourselves in a great many risky situations because we have no choice in the matter. We must cross a street to get to the other side. We must drive a car, take a plane, or board a bus to get from one place to another. But there is a great difference in taking a calculated risk and a foolish risk.
Being a risk taker in business calls for knowing the difference between the two types of risk. We have all read about the people who take foolish risks—the daredevils, the sensation seekers. Their exploits fill the news. When an individual bungee jumps—that is, jumps off a bridge or a building with nothing but a long “rubber band” to break the fall—that is a foolish risk, despite what those people say who like to do it. The same with going over Niagara Falls in a barrel or hurling over a great number of cars placed side by side on a motorcycle. All of those acts are foolish risks done by daredevils who live on the edge—although I know daredevils will not agree with me.
What then are calculated risks? They are deciding to head for the boss’s office and ask for a raise. You may or may not get the raise, but at least you tried. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Changing from a well paying job to one at lesser pay because the future looks brighter is also a calculated risk. You may regret leaving your former position, yet the fact remains that you will never know if there is a brighter future unless the risk is taken. You know of course, that I’m not talking about living dangerously or advocating that you “go for broke”. Getting anywhere at your job or profession—in fact getting anywhere in life means you have to take calculated risks. Carefully considered risks. Risks which you must balance the payoff against the costs in time, money, energy and other sacrifices or compromises called for.
When you don’t take carefully considered risks you remain where you are. You don’t go backward, but you don’t go forward. You’ll likely remain in some kind of vegetable state. What I learned from my own calculated risks and experiences is that often one has to skate on thin ice to achieve one’s goals and objectives. You too will certainly risk thin ice as you master your way to the top. When it comes to thin ice, the gutless refuse to put on skates. But that’s not you. You’ll put the skates on, size up the situation and move forward with caution. There have been many people who have taken calculated risks in their professions or jobs in the positive sense: Howard Hughes, the industrialist who perfected oil-drilling tools. Walt Disney who believed he could interest adults and children in animated cartoons, just as they were interested in regular films. You need courage to be a risk-taker. One important way to keep your courage up is not to let others—the naysayers—discourage you. You’ll always find wet blankets to warn you about taking risks. Have the courage, strength of conviction and confidence in yourself to go for the top, to go for success!