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You Can (and Should) Take More Risk Than You Think
You need to think about risk in the right way
“I could never do what you did. I can’t even think about doing that.”
My friend said this with a tinge of yearning in his voice.
He was alluding to the risk I took when I quit my call center job in 2008 to start a blog and make money online.
A risk it was, sure. I was the sole breadwinner of my family and money was hard to come by those days.
We didn’t have enough of a cushion either. No big bank balance to rely upon.
But let’s keep all that sob story aside for a moment and think pragmatically, because I did think pragmatically then.
How big of a risk it was really?
Some points that I carefully considered before calling it quits on the corporate world:
1. I had amassed some work experience.
2. I could speak English fluently and that meant getting a job in India’s burgeoning call center industry back then would’ve been straightforward.
3. I had already gathered knowledge on building an audience. I knew how to make it work.
That’s how, you might say, one takes a “calculated risk.”
You calculate the pros and cons of the decision before taking the plunge. When you do that, you might see the so called “big risk” for what it is – an exaggerated version that your mind concocted as soon as it sensed that you planned to step out of your comfort zone.
There have been several such instances in my professional and personal life where I was advised to not take the action as the risk might not be worth it.
Sometimes people were right. I would take the action and screw up.
But every time such a screw up happened, it was because I didn’t “calculate” the risk. I was too impulsive to take a step back and analyze properly.
Whenever I carefully assessed the severity of the risk before taking the action, I was successful, even if on the outward it looked like a huge, unthinkable risk to people close to me.
I think we don’t think about risk that often.
We just relate to the heavy sound of the word and tune out. We don’t want to sit down and understand if what our mind is serving us — with respect to the situation — is accurate.
One reason, of course, is the general inertia of the human mind and body and the tremendous force it can apply to help you stay put in your comfort zone. To break out of it is no joke.
Another reason, which I believe is more potent, is the lack of conviction in your skills.
I have found this to be true for even the most supremely confident people. They’re absolutely sure about their skills when it comes to their current job but not sure how they’ll be treated if they were to go out in the market.
Why would you consider your skills non-portable?
Why would you think you’re unlikely to succeed in something new when you have the foundations of good schooling and mindset in place?
Why would you pay more attention to the downside when the chances of the upside from your action might be same?
Of course, when I say “the chances of the upside from your action might be same,” I am assuming that you’ve sat down and done the math.
If you know me, you know that I usually encourage people to take well-thought out risks.
I believe the risk of not taking that carefully calculated risk is far higher.
Not only are you squandering your potential by not giving it a shot, you’re also missing a chance to live a more meaningful life.
You can take more risk than you think if you take the “think” part seriously and have an optimistic view of life.
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