This post is connecting to our namesake – upgrading your thinking and learning.
More specifically, it’s focused on helping you upgrade to a growth mindset. A mindset that not only changes how you view yourself and your potential, but also how you can influence and affect the world of those around you.
A shift in your mindset can influence others’ too.
Okay, Let’s take the next step in upgrading your mindset, adapting how you see (and take) risks, and moving closer to being Growth You*.
There’s a lot to be said about risk, plenty of people before me speak, philosophise, write and present information about risk every single day.
Which makes a lot of sense when you consider that every single day we use, embrace, run away, or learn from risk. It’s out there. It doesn’t matter where you go or who you are with, you will be faced with a wide range of risks every single day.
Nearly every decision you make will have some sort of risk involved.
Do I cross the road between the cars travelling sort of fast, or do I wait 10 whole seconds and cross when there is no traffic?
Do I speak up to my boss in front of all our staff after he’s just explained that idea incorrectly?
Downton Abbey or Sons of Anarchy?
Risk is everywhere.
LIFE is a risk.
Which is absolutely fantastic.
Risk is one of those words and ideas that now has an almost completely negative connotation. People think about, and use, the word without even realising how it can help them weigh up and identify opportunities for growth, success or achievement.
We do this quite a bit – think of the word awesome.
Did that kid picking up litter in the school yard really fill you with awe?
Is Michael Jordan really awesome? (Yes).
But, back to risk…what’s does it even mean?
When most people speak about risk they are talking about the potential to be hurt physically, mentally, emotionally or socially. Humans don’t like being hurt. We have a fixation on surviving to pass on our awesome genes and making sure some remnant of us continues in future generations.
Being hurt in any way prevents this. Not good.
So, with this biological programming to fear situations where we may be hurt, it makes sense that we have to internally fight to take risks. The thing is, for most people, in most major cities in the world**, we aren’t facing the same physical dangers our ancestors in caves were.
Today, with the rising rates of anxiety and depression you could almost argue that physical dangers are now outweighed by mental, social and emotional dangers. For the lucky majority around the world, our day to day risks involve you possibly:
- speaking up in a meeting
- providing a different alternative to others
- making a mistake in front of people
- trying something new
- ignoring that voice in your head
- dealing with issues in the workplace (politicking, gossip, different personalities)
Which, again, can all be fantastic and worthwhile risks…if you know how to identify when or if they are worthwhile and fantastic.
How do you know if a risk is worth taking?
Start by working out two things: the costs (negatives) and the benefits (positives).
What could the risk cost you?
Think about the things you may lose or that could possibly be harmful. These things can be easy to identify, but they can also be subtle and intangible. This could be how your social status or influence may be affected…like when you are new to a rugby club and, while attending the annual Karaoke Night, you decide Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On would be a great way to announce yourself to the club.
Enter strange looks, people looking down and the coach suddenly needing a lot of helpers to move things outside.
That was painful…for four minutes and thirty six seconds.
A lot of people simply weigh up the danger, risk and impacts of decisions without considering the short-term and long-term benefits or positive impacts.
What could the benefits be?
Whilst your horribly awkward singing took place it felt like a gigantically negative risk occurred. But, then some awesome things happened.
Social barriers with the team had been broken, a positive reputation for being willing to look ridiculous was created and some common connections were developed. Trust, camaraderie and openness was established.
(Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a good Titanic moment?)
Overall, when making the decision in your mind the positive impacts outnumbered the negatives. The decision was made that ultimately the impact of the risk would be a positive one. The risk was taken and the result was the one that had been hoped for.
Remember, it’s about training yourself to step back and weigh up the negative AND the positives.
We are programmed to identify the dangers first. We don’t want to be hurt, so you have to practice, focus and make a concerted effort to think about positive impacts of each risk.
Spend the time to work out if they outweigh the negatives. If not, you probably shouldn’t act, however if the positives do outweigh the negatives then maybe today is the day when you take a risk and possibly benefit from your action.
Something to note, every situation could require a greater number of positives to outweigh the negatives. Changing careers or starting a family both have a HUGE amount of positives and negatives to weigh up and deeply consider… whereas choosing Fruit Loops over Coco Pops in the morning may feel important, but really only affects one breakfast experience (plus, we all know it should be Coco Pops).
At first you will find it hard to take risks because we are programmed to avoid danger or harm…but take time, focus and practise weighing up the costs against the benefits.
In the end, it’s all about how you feel about the risk. It’s about what you are willing to sacrifice or put on the line. It’s about how willing you are to achieve certain things.
Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go
What is risk you haven’t taken yet?
What could the positive and negative impacts be?
How willing are you to discover or try something new?
*As I wrote that, I felt the cliche and idealism ooze out of me…which I am not sorry for (sort of), I figure it’s better to embrace a cliche. So..embrace it. Yep, it just happened.
**Who are lucky enough to have shelter or a safe place to call home.
A great perspective on understanding and analysing risks:
Grant Statham – The Anatomy of Chance and Uncertainty
Simon Sinek presenting his perspective on the importance of trust and being willing to take risks to let others in and see what we value:
Simon Sinek – How Great Leaders Inspire Action