The term “risk” seems to generally have a negative connotation in our society. “That’s too risky” is, of course, a commentary on the potential negative impact of something. Financial investments are frequently categorized in terms of a risk vs. potential reward framework. We try to convince children and teenagers to avoid risky behaviors that might lead to harm or worse. There are professional certifications centering on the proper evaluation of risk. How much time do project managers spend trying to imagine every possible risk associated with a project, documenting them and attempting to specify some way to mitigate them?
We spend too much time worrying about risk. We need to give more time to attempting things because of the potential good that can come even if we aren’t certain of the risk.
If a child is concerned about risk management, he will never jump off the edge of the pool or porch into the waiting arms of a loving father. If potential parents say no to child rearing because of fear of the unknown, then they will never know the joys that outweigh those fears. If businesses default to saying “No” in response to innovative ideas, then they will never lead their industries. If churches only do the things they have always done, they shut themselves off to a Voice calling them in a new direction. If individuals never open themselves to others out of fear of being hurt, they will never know love.
This doesn’t mean we must give no thought to risk or that we do everything the moment it comes to mind. It does mean, though, that we need to be open to stepping into the unknown more than we tend to do. It means that we can’t always think through every possible future chess move of life and know the outcomes. And that’s OK.
What great inventions have come about without risk? What important social movements? What deep relationships? What innovative businesses? What life-changing actions? What career milestones?
In so many areas of life, I would rather risk and lose than never risk at all. What about you?
Leap year lesson #88 is Risk more. Worry less.