You and I live in a society obsessed with ‘risk’.
There are a few definitions of risk which seem to boil down to some sort of measurement of the potential result of some type of interaction with uncertainty.
In other words, if we don’t know what’s going to happen next, then the situation is uncertain, so entering into it presents a ‘risk’ relating to how things might turn out.
For good or for bad.
Usually people think of risk as something to do with the possibility of something ‘bad’ happening – except perhaps in gambling when the ‘risk’ of an investment is usually related to a win – ‘how much are we prepared to risk?’
All this talk of risk of course works to undermine the belief that you and I have in what we are doing or what we are about to do or what we want to do.
‘Taking a risk’ implies not that things might go wrong but that things are likely to go wrong and a whole industry has built up for ‘experts’ to measure or ‘assess’ the chances of an enterprise succeeding – or not.
There’s not a lot that you and I can do these days without someone having done or having to do a ‘risk assessment’ before we are permitted to move forward.
But here’s the thing
If you and I are committed to what we are engaged in and we fully believe and have faith in it, then there is no ‘risk’.
You and I think in terms of intentions and outcomes and we know that the means by which we achieve what we intend may differ from what we originally envisaged, and often change as we go along our chosen path.
Risk is about the fear that things might ‘go wrong’ or get ‘out of control’, so risk is also about control.
About keeping everything under control or feeling ‘in control’ of what is going on.
But you and I aren’t like that.
Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton said –
“If everything feels under control, then you’re not going fast enough”
Hamilton knows the risks involved in his sport and that sets limits to the ‘zone’ in which he can operate during a race.
But the important thing is that his belief and commitment is such that despite any ‘risks’ he isn’t going to slow down when the opportunity to overtake someone presents itself.
For sure, sometimes it doesn’t work out as expected, but the opportunity was taken – despite the ‘risk’.
Risks are not ‘real’ – they are just a guess, or maybe sometimes a ‘calculation’ about the outcome of a particular action and whether that outcome will be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for the person taking the action.
You and I know many people who are ‘risk averse’. In other words, they are reluctant to take action because they are convinced that the likelihood of ‘something going wrong’ is greater that the outcome they might desire from taking that action.
They have gone from simple ‘fear of the unknown’ to a level of certainty that ‘the unknown’ (or any form of ‘change’) is generally speaking a bad thing – so they do nothing.
But isn’t that a ‘risk’ as well?
‘Do nothing’ is often seen as a ‘safe option’ – but sometimes it can be just as ‘risky or even more so than doing something different in certain situations.
So every ‘risk’ has a ‘counter risk’ – what is the risk of not taking that risk?
And what is the risk of not bothering about the risk and just ‘getting on with it’.
I’ll go with Sir Richard Branson’s maxim of “Screw it, Let’s do it” any day and let the ‘risks’ look after themselves!
I’m off to take action and ‘take some risks’.