Risk Aversion is the Impediment to Growth

Photo by epSos .de

Photo by epSos .de

Yesterday, our CEO, Tim Ogilvie, sat down with us to have one of his semi-regular "fireside chats." The topic was "EntrepreneurYou"— tips for being more entrepreneurially-minded. As I reflected on his stories of personal success, failure and moments of truth, one lesson stood out from the rest: If you can get over your fear of embarrassment, you'll be more likely to take risks for the things you believe in. As an innovation consultant, I often find myself encouraging our clients to take risks over the course of a project, but as of late, I realized I don't follow suit in my own life. 

With Tim's call to action fresh in my mind, I put together a list of the top five reasons to just get over yourself and take a risk.

  1. All the good things in your life came into being because you took action. In other words, nobody has ever gotten anything by doing nothing.
  2. A life without risk is a life without growth. We learn (and therefore grow) the most when we are up against adversity, pushing ourselves to the limit.
  3. Live your own life, not the life people expect you to live. When you know what you believe in and stand up for that point of view, you create a new reality for yourself, even if it is only temporary. If you try something and it doesn't work out, you can always take another risk, make a change, and create something entirely new. 
  4. If you're learning something new, you can't be failing. Each action or risk we take is a hypothesis of what our future could be. Even if the hypothesis proves false, you've still learned something valuable. 
  5. The payoff of taking a risk is greater than than the embarrassment of failure. Embarrassment and other emotions are only temporary states but, for better or for worse, taking a risk always has a lasting impact. When it come to taking action, don't let emotions overpower your well-formed gut and intuition. 

As much as these principles apply to individuals, they also apply to innovation and growth projects. So when's the last time you took a risk that resulted in an unexpected outcome?