Taking a risk really scares most people. And the problem with that is – if you don’t take risks, you won’t achieve success.
Interestingly though, most of us have ridden a rollercoaster. Yet, that is actually a very risky thing to do.
On one hand, we’ll jump in a metal car, tie a few straps around ourselves and hurl our bodies around a rather precarious track for the sheer thrill of it. On the other hand, we will not take certain actions in business or life that have far less dramatic outcomes should they go wrong.
Why is this?
Well, risk is such an individual concept that there is no single answer.
But let me give you an idea of how the mind works on this issue.
Imagine you are standing in the line up waiting to jump on the rollercoaster. You’ve paid your money and you’re anxious to get going. Yes, you might be apprehensive and excited but there is no significant concept of risk. That is because, either based on previous experience or a quick measure of the pros and cons, you’ve decided that this action is not likely to cause you harm.
Okay. Now, as I go through this list of factors, decide for yourself where you would consider the risk to have become too high to get onto the rollercoaster.
- It looks like rain is coming
- It’s already raining and things are a bit slippery
- There’s a thunderstorm in the distance
- You heard people complaining as they came off the ride earlier
- Some of the equipment looks a bit old
- You see some rusted bolts lying on the ground under the track
- You read in the paper the company who built the ride went bankrupt
- You heard that the amusement park was shut down yesterday for safety problems
- The ride operator looks drunk
So, at what point in that list would you have walked away?
Everyone will answer differently and some would still be waiting for me to come up with something more risky!
The key point is that risk is preceded by fear, and the reason you aren’t moving a goal forward is because you are imagining a potential outcome that frightens you.
For example, you spot rusted bolts on the ground under the track. If this would have stopped you from getting on the ride, then you have probably concluded that the bolts come from that ride. That they just fell out moments ago, from the very car you are about to jump into. And that no one has spotted the bolts and you will surely perish!
But is that true?
The way to handle the fear is to challenge it.
Where did those bolts really come from? Do they belong to the ride, or something else? Maybe they are old bolts from that particular ride – but they have been replaced by brand new ones.
Action – What goal are you putting off because it feels too risky? Write down the list of possible outcomes that are frightening you.
Now, sit down with someone you trust and work through each of those reasons. Challenge the fear until you either feel comfortable to take the next step or find an alternate way to move forward.