Risk-taking is scary for most of us because there is always the potential for loss. We’ve been taught to be careful and avoid taking any unnecessary risks. Instead, we are cautioned to play it safe and just take baby steps toward our dreams.
While this approach does tend to feel safer there are also some serious downsides. For one, you can’t build momentum by holding yourself back. In fact, the longer we hold back, the harder it is to keep moving forward. Without forward momentum inertia kicks in until our progress comes to a screeching halt.
The risk factor
Have you ever noticed that most successful people have one thing in common? Nine times out of ten there was some degree of risk involved in their success. In one way or another, those “successful people” usually feel like they needed to take a chance in order to succeed.
Believe it or not, risk is not such a terrible thing if you view it from the right perspective. Most people look at it from the perspective of what they stand to lose if it doesn’t work out. But we also need to ask “what do I stand to gain if it DOES work out?”
Is it worth the risk?
Here’s a simple process to determine which risks might be worth taking. Use the following six criteria to analyze the situation BEFORE you jump in and make a final decision.
1) What do you stand to gain? With any risk, you’ll want to first look at the potential benefits. Make a list of what you stand to gain from moving forward and include as many details as possible. Consider every possible positive benefit you stand to receive. Make sure to consider the financial, emotional and physical upside. What’s the best case scenario?
2) What are the possible negative consequences? Along with the positive benefits, there are always a few possible negative consequences. That’s why they call it RISK. Make another list of these, again thinking about all the possible things that could go wrong, and what would happen if they did. Could you handle it? What’s the worst case scenario?
3) Balance, balance, balance. Now, compare the two lists and see which one has the strongest likelihood of coming to fruition. Would the gains be worth the risk? Would you be able to handle the negative consequences if they did happen? Are there any options for a middle ground decision that would minimize the risk without derailing the momentum? Should you break it into phases so you have an exit strategy, or should you just go for it with all you’ve got?
4) How realistic are your fears? Take another look at your list of negative consequences and ask yourself how likely they are to happen. The majority of the time you’ll probably find that your fears don’t have much real substance – they’re just fears. Evaluate each possibility carefully and determine whether it’s a real threat or an expression of some unrelated fear.
5) Go with your gut. After carefully weighing the pros and cons, you should have a solid sense of whether you should take the risk now, or lay a little more groundwork first. There is no shame in deciding to hold back if you feel you can’t handle the negative consequences right now! Remember, you can always re-evaluate the same risk at a later time to see if conditions are more favorable.
6) Now ask yourself – Why? What is your motive for considering this course of action? Is it in harmony with what you know to be right, or is it possible that greed or selfishness might be influencing you? Understanding your own motives will help you get very clear about what you should do. Always move toward the greater good.
Get yourself primed for action
By getting into the habit of evaluating risks in this way, you will empower yourself with the confidence to push through hesitation and move steadily toward a successful outcome. In the long run, confidence and determination will be a huge factor. If you are going to take a risk, getting your mindset right first will maximize your chances for success. That brings us to…
7) Don’t hold anything back! If you decide to go for it, give it your best shot. The first six points were the pre-action phase. Once you launch into action avoid the temptation to second guess your decision. Doing so will only undermine your progress. You’re already in the game, so now it’s time to focus on making things happen.
What will it take to succeed this year?
How are you at assessing risk?
Do you think that risk and success go together?
The lines are open!
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