Most mature individuals have a built-in radar when it comes to taking on risk. That radar seems to become more and more highly tuned the older we get. The problem is this: when it comes to playing it safe, we may think we know more than we really do about safe behavior, since uncertainty faces us at a very fast pace in the 21st century. I recently heard the comedian, writer, and tall person (his self-description) John Cleese say, “Want to know how to make God laugh? Tell God your plans.”
Safety generally involves consistency of a condition — whether that’s job security, a stable marriage, or the value of a currency. The challenge is there are very few environments that remain static. “Safe” investments like gold can lose value. You could be fired from your “safe” job. And yet we behave as if the current state will persist in perpetuity. We cannot bury our head in the sand and pretend things are “safe” as everything around us is in a state of change.
And this is why a mindset of innovation is important. We really cannot predict the future. We can be innovative, while still evaluating risk.
While no one can predict the future, there are a few tactics you can use to get better at evaluating risk. Before you make a decision, do your research on all of the potential avenues of action. Ask credible experts to weigh in. And don’t forget to evaluate the inherent risk of doing nothing. Sometimes the status quo is actually riskier than taking a leap into the unknown.