Is risk taking necessary in business?
In so many ways, life today is easy. Rarely do we live on the edge - in the arena of fight or flight - where our instinct tell us how best to survive! So is risk taking necessary in business?
Until recently the most alive I ever felt was playing team sports in my younger days. There was something about the challenge and the imminent danger of injury that brought out the best in me. Whether it was a mistimed soccer tackle or facing a fast bowler whose target was my head, this feeling of risk taking thrust me totally into the present moment, where I didn’t have time to think and had to survive – and thrive – by way of my instinct.
In today’s world, most of us do not need to worry about survival. And whilst there is a comfort and safety in life being “so easy” these days, there is also a distinct danger in it.
Whenever life gives us what we need relatively easily, we soloists tend to find routines that work, regular clients and a habitual way of being. And we tend to equate success with creating security for ourselves.
However, what I notice for many outwardly successful people is a lack of fulfilment – a lack of passion and aliveness – and a difficulty acknowledging it. “After all why should I complain?” they say, “I have everything I need – money, success, comfort, the material things I desire, and at least as a soloist I’m my own boss!”
So how do we create and recreate passion and aliveness we are looking for?
"I'm talking about coming up with a challenging idea that will push your boundaries."
One way is through calculated risk taking, stepping out of our comfort zones and creating a situation whereby we have to deal with the consequences.
I’m not talking about becoming an adrenalin junkie and participating in extreme sports – the problem with this approach is that the feeling doesn’t last, and rather like a strong cup of coffee, the effect soon wears off.
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I’m talking about coming up with a challenging idea that will push your boundaries. The key is that the main reward on offer must be fulfilment – not money or kudos!
A clue that the idea is worth pursuing is that it will probably scare us. We will most likely think it is childish, unrealistic, frivolous or irresponsible. We may not be able to see how it can earn us any money – indeed it may appear like it’s going to cost us money.
For example, we may decide to:
- Let go of the clients we don’t enjoy working with, or no longer take on the particular contracts that drive us crazy.
- Approach the huge client that we always wanted to work with but felt was out of our league. Or to commit to a speaking engagement or writing an article even though we don’t have a clue what we are going to say or write.
- Turn up totally unprepared for a meeting or a presentation, trusting that we’ll amaze ourselves with our instinctive abilities.
- Start studying, training and moving towards the type of work we’ve secretly always dreamed of, but never had the courage to do.
There is a wonderful quote by Shakti Gawain – “The Universe rewards us for taking risks”.
And I remember a friend who, whenever I used to say ‘Take care’, would reply ‘No, take risks!’ Sound advice indeed – for I know that when I am involved in risk taking, by following my heart and my passion, I allow magic and success into my life in ways that never cease to amaze me.