How to live with risk

February 21st, 2011 by Douglas McEncroe · 2 Comments · Liderazgo

The other day I took an important decision, a life changing decision if the truth be known. It was in the back of my mind for a long time and there had been lots of opportunities to take it of the back burner but I think I was afraid of starting the process of really putting it on the table in order to analyse it. Once I did, as with any decision there were advantages and disadvantages to both of the available options, but in reality nothing that I couldn’t really explore as a viable possibility, and so once I started it was hard to understand why I had taken so long to really look at it. Having said that, the chosen option is very risky.

I don’t know if it was the risk itself or a combination of the risk and the disadvantages that made me avoid considering this decision for so long, my guess is that it was probably the latter. Even so, the risk is frightening. The question is, is the risk manageable or will the fear that comes from it paralyse me? Over these last few days I have thought a lot about this and I have come to realise that not only does this risk and the fear that it creates not paralyse me it is actually making me more creative. In fact over the last few days I have more energy than I have had for a long time. How can this be?

Risk is no stranger to immigrants

Spain is the fourth country in which I have lived, it is has also been the most foreign to me. With both Italy and Spain, going to live in those countries was a mighty leap into the unknown, I had no idea what I would find nor how I was going to make a living, I didn’t even speak the language. Was I afraid? You’d better believe it, how could I not be afraid? However, my wrestlessness and my hunger to have new experiences and to build something were stronger than my fear.

I must confess to feeling angry when I hear people criticise immigrants in a country like Spain who needs them and where the principle ambition of a large percentage of young people is to become Public Servants with the imaginary security that this is going to give them. I myself have a lot more respect for these immigrants, often poor and with few qualifications, who have come here with nothing more than the close on their backs to look for a better life. The irony is of course that if Spain is going to lift itself up again and become the vibrant country it was, it needs people who know how to live with fear and not those who want to avoid it.

All free-lance professionals are familiar with risk

In Spain, as in many countries there are many people who are self employed, they are constantly undervalued both by their societies and by the governments. My wife and myself are amongst them. At the beginning of every year I look at my diary and see to my dismay that I don’t have all that much work booked, and even the work I do have can easily be cancelled, especially in a recession. And yet every year my diary gets filled and things work out. Fear and risk make me more creative and make me move my asse and perhaps, they even make me feel more alive. Personally I wouldn’t change my way of living for anything in the world.

Suggestions for living with risk

During these last days I have thought a lot about how I have learned to live with risk over these last thirty years. Here are some ideas:

  • Understand that to live is to risk, you can’t in reality avoid it.
  • Understand that an excess of security is like an anesthesia. Do you really want to live like a zombie?
  • Remind yourself constantly of all that you have achieved.
  • Be very clear about what you do well, where you add value, and do just that.
  • Constantly look for opportunities where people or companies need what you do well.
  • Dedicate your time to those actions which are most important, that really add value.
  • Build networks and alliances with people who can support you working hard to identify where there are creative independency..

I am now very happy with the decision I took last week, sure, its risky, but there is nothing wrong with that.

And you my friends, how do you live with risk?


2 Comments so far ↓

  • Daniel MORERA

    Efectivamente, Douglas, vivir sin riesgo es algo no natural. Todos nos arriesgamos en el momento de una toma de decisiones; y más los empresarios. Tú hablas de los autónomos, pero cualquier empresario, como yo, asume riesgos para obtener un beneficio mayor (no necesariamente económico). Y la clave está en encontrar el balance apropiado riesgo/beneficio.

    En mi negocio – la adición de valor a los negocios de mis clientes optimizando las posibilidades que ofrece internet – es muchas veces complicado contagiar esa pasión por el riesgo controlado, pero aquellos que confían en (así se llama la Agencia de Marketing Digital que dirijo) obtienen un beneficio que compensa ese riesgo inicial asumido.

    Creo, además, que sólo se puede avanzar – en todos los órdenes de la vida – ¡asumiendo riesgos! ¿No piensas tú lo mismo?

    Gracias por tus aportaciones. Veo que tu objetivo de principio de año se está cumpliendo… Eso es que el sistema de motivación aplicado (esperanza de buenas sensaciones) está funcionando adecuadamente. ¡Enhorabuena!

    • Douglas McEncroe

      Muchas gracias por tus comentarios Daniel. Sí estoy de acuerdo en que solo se puede avanzar en la vida si asumes riesgos. Pero creo que también que uno tiene que ser consciente del riesgo, de lo que puedes perder y lo que se puede ganar y según el balance lanzarte o esperar a la siguiente oportunidad. Otraz vez, “liderazgo consciente”.

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