A Few Words About Risk
Recently I had been thinking about risk. It isn’t a subject we hear much about anymore, unless your money is in hedge funds or your future is inexplicably tied to Greek futures. If either is the case, then you are living with risk every nanosecond of the day, but for the rest of us it is a subject that rarely comes up.
In fact, we have reduced risk in our lives to the point where it is nearly negligible. Our vehicles have lights, buzzers, safety belts, GPS units, and in the new Cadillacs an option that allows the driver’s seat to vibrate if you get too near an object. Smoke alarms, radon gas detectors, and alarm systems that can alert our cell phones if any unauthorized person tries to enter further reduce our risk to exposure. OSHA and others have been diligent in assuring the American worker they can perform their assignments without the fear of bodily injury.
Socially we’ve done what we can to reduce risk in a myriad of ways. There are books, DVDs, and seminars to help us eliminate the risk of bad relationships. Dating services have intricate questionnaires to assure the success (and thus reducing risk) of those seeking a life companion.
In sports rules have been tightened, scrutinized, and re-evaluated to reduce risk to the participants, and in some sports even to the spectators.
Up and down the continuum we have striven to eliminate every aspect of risk. Which for the most part is not a bad thing. As the driver of a 3,000 pound piece of steel down the highway, with my Grandson in his safety seat with a seat belt across him, I’m all for reducing his risk. Same way with my home, which is made out of logs, so I’m all for smoke alarms. As a cyclist I love that I can reduce my risk of a serious head injury by wearing a helmet that is specifically designed to withstand blunt force trauma and thus help me keep what few functioning brain cells I still have.
Now all of these efforts are good and I’m not suggesting for a moment that we take away any of the safety devices and laws that we have in place to protect us. But I wonder if there is not some unintended fallout. Something that in our focused concentration we did not think about. Could it be that we have curtailed a part of us that needs risk? Something within us that needs to push the envelope of what is possible. The part of us that
wants needs to live on the edge. I know when I ran across the United states I felt something deep within me. If I were a better writer I would be able to describe it. It was an excitement, like a live wire with a enough electricity running through it to juice you silly. I awoke with it in the morning and fell asleep with it in the evening.
Now that I am constructing a new company I feel it again. The act of taking an idea that was birthed while we sat on the hoods of our cars in a parking lot and talked about what would be the perfect company and then creating and developing the concept into reality brings out the feeling again. The feeling of risk. Of working without a net. If it works, it works big. If it fails, it fails big.
Perhaps it is time we let a little risk creep back into our lives. I’m not advocating a wild run amok, pitfalls be damned type of behavior. We don’t need any more hurt and pain, of any type, in the world. But maybe we do need a little risk, a little abandonment, a little willingness to loosen the reins, a little less scripted life.
Just be careful.