Imagine if a start-up company in an emerging market called you today and offered you your dream job with all your dream benefits and in your dream geographic location. Would you take the job without reservation? Or would you immediately envision the risks involved in a start-up company in an unproven market?
Maybe you would worry that this dream job may turn into a nightmare within 6 months, when the start-up shuts its doors. Would such thoughts cause you to respectfully decline the opportunity? Apply this scenario to your real life situations. What professional and personal opportunities are you dismissing as the result of being too risk averse?
We all encounter risk on a daily basis both in our professional and personal lives. Risk comes in all shapes and sizes, and it comes with all levels of consequence. But, not all risk is bad and, in fact, some risk can lead to your greatest rewards.
Understanding and navigating risk to minimize unwanted outcomes and maximize positive outcomes is the crux of risk management. Risk management is a key aspect of business operations and, in fact, many companies pay individuals to focus solely on managing risk. Risk management is a critical skill to acquire and develop as it is essential for being successful both professionally and personally.
To polish this skill, you can take formal coursework related to risk management, but experience with risk and applying other skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, and analytical skills to risk-related decisions will make you as good of a practical risk manager as someone with hours and hours of formal coursework.
In Stop Playing Safe, Margie Warrell discusses how to “rethink risk” and how to take smart, strategic risks. If you’re contemplating taking some big risks and/or if you want to gain some additional insight into how successful people operate, this book may be worth your time to read.
Beyond Margie Warrell’s insightful book, consider being a little less risk averse and see what happens. I know it’s scary, but just take baby steps. Take a small risk and see what happens. Analyze how this risk taking adventure succeeds or fails. Apply your problem solving and critical thinking skills to understand how this risk could have been better navigated.
Repeat the process and you’ll learn a lot about risk management and how smart, strategic risks can lead to big wins and success. Granted you have to be smart, use common sense and listen to your “gut” feeling a lot of the time when managing risk and sure you may “fail” 9 out of 10 times, but 1 win from taking 10 risks may lead to a BIG success.
Ultimately, you will never excel past ordinary without stepping out on a ledge every now and then. So, Don’t Avoid All Risk! And, you will improve your risk management skills with experience and with constant reflection and continuous analysis of all your risk-associated maneuvers. Eventually, you will become a skilled risk manager and you will be able to easily avoid opportunities that will fail and you will easily identify opportunists that will succeed, and at that time you will start “winning” more often.
Nathan Vanderford has a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural biotechnology, an MBA with an operations management focus, and a PhD in biochemistry. You can learn more about Nathan at www.nathanvanderford.com.