Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

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“The greatest”, Muhammad Ali, is quoted as saying “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life. “. This quote is applicable to anyone and everyone and you will serve yourself well to evaluate how it specifically applies to you.

Risk taking or the aversion to it is one of the primary reasons why people fall short of realising their ambitions. Most of us understand that the greater the risk, the greater the possible return and yet we do not take calculated risks often enough.

The main reason we do not take risks is not a mystery- fear. Fear strikes at the heart of many of us and renders us immobilised in deep paralysis, unable to take action. In the blog post The Fear Of Failure Is The Fear Of Success, I tackled the subject of how fear steals from our potential for success.

Is The Fear Rational?

To be clear, a certain level of fear is acceptable. As the human organism, our bodies have cultivated the fear response for a good reason. When it comes to taking responsibility for our own advancement in the face of risk, it is critical that we analyse fear when it comes knocking.

When evaluating a risk and whilst in the grip of a deep fear, this is the time to bring in your rational mind. Fear is a base instinct. It has its origins in the amygdala, an almond-shaped cluster of neurons deep within the brain responsible for the processing of emotions.

Emotions are an important part of who we are but they are not useful for all types of situations. In order to objectively evaluate risk, it is critical to engage the higher functions of the brain by applying a disciplined reasoned approach.

Before you let fear dictate how you will react in the face of high risk, it is worthwhile to take a step back and ask the question, “Is the fear Rational?”. Often times, you will find that most of our fears are a result of our minds applying its active imagination to generate i our minds a set of circumstances that will probably not come to pass.

Big Risk Big Rewards

When you take a risk, rewards are expected and so is the possibility of losing it all. The magnitude of these returns strongly hinges on the magnitude of the risk. It’s like gambling- not that I gamble- the higher someone bets the higher the takings if they win.

There is one clear distinction of the nature of returns between betting in a casino and risk taking in life. When betting at a casino, the stakes are always stacked against you in favour of the house whilst when betting in life, your odds improve the more you apply reason and take calculated risk.

Whether gambling at a casino or taking risks in life, the fact of the matter is that you will never win unless you play. Whilst it may seem produdent to become risk averse, you are missing out on opportunities by doing so.

Grab Life By The Horns

The best strategy therefore is to take calculated risks, as often as possible. Calculated risk means evaluating all the facts at your disposal. It is not possible to be aware of all the pertinent facts applicable to a risky situation but you can find enough detail to make the calculation good enough to mitigate extreme loss.

Whether you succeed or not, taking calculated risks has many advantages. There is personal learning and growth to be realised from every risky situation and there is a lot of literature out there to support the notion that we learn and grow more form circumstances in which we fail rather than where we succeed.

They say luck favours the bold. Be bold enough to take calculated risks and the world will notice and opportunities will present themselves because you dared to take the risk. Risk taking can be as simple as walking up to a girl and asking her out or asking your boss for a raise. Unless you are bold, you cannot expect the outcome.

Success will not simply fall out of the sky into your lap, you have to chase it and without taking calculated risks, you won’t be much of a chaser. Playing it safe does not help and is a limiting mentality. Taking calculated risks is a key ingredient in taking what’s yours.

I should point out that it might not be easy at first to be bold and take calculated risks. Risk aversion and the fear response associated with taking risks are learned responses. Since avoiding risk is something we learn, it is possible to unlearn it, you just have to take baby steps in conditioning yourself to take more calculated risks.

In my experience, opportunities are out there, only waiting to be discovered. The law of averages dictates that you will find that elusive success the more doors you open and you cannot realistically open more doors without exposing yourself to some degree of risk. Ultimately the fact that will help you realise your ambitions is to acknowledge that in life, nothing ventured nothing gained is a motto to live by. 

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