Risk Management - Manage

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Risks Must be Managed

The best way to avoid risks is to management the know challenges and pitfalls with great care.  The best risks are those that are known and can be managed.  By managing one's risk, you have a great chance at avoiding them.  So, when you are in a risky situation, don't shut your eyes and hope they will go away.  Acknowledge your risks and take prudent management actions to avoid them or reduce their potential impact should they occur.  Most importantly, don't be surprised by hidden risks.  Keep your consciousness alert and your antennas up and constantly monitor for potential roadblocks and unanticipated events that could derail your intentions.

Manage risk, don't avoid them.

Risk is considered to be downside potential in any situation, whereas opportunity is considered the upside potential.  The primary tenant of this website is that the best opportunities are found where the risks are the highest.   Just as the best apples are found at the top of the tree, so the best opportunities are those that involve the most risks.  Does high risk mean that one must give up the potential benefits of an opportunity?.  No, it just means that those risks must be managed.  Managed risks means that the downside of an opportunity is handled in such a way that it does not interfere with the quest for the benefits.   All the known risks are managed via a risk mitigation plan.   The unknown risks are managed by aggressively searching the future for things that could go wrong...bad assumptions, lack of know-how,  unanticipated outcomes from tasks in the implementation plan, etc.  Ideally, even if the risks are high, if the risks are managed, they no not impose an unacceptable price to the attempt to acquire the benefits.    If you elect to go for the high risk opportunities, just make sure that you adequately manage the risks. 

Risk Seeking Tendency = More Success
Risk is not always a bad thing and to be avoided at all costs.  Most people seek safety and find it within their comfort zone. The reason is obvious...safety is more comfortable and safe than taking a risk of loosing what one has. The proclivity to seek safety over risk dooms us to mediocrity. We can never rise above what we don't attempt to do. If we limit our work to the safe and ordinary, then that is the best we can hope for. We can only achieve greatness by thinking and attempting great things...which all entail risks. Remember that the choicest apples remain at the top to the apple tree, just waiting for a bold climber to fetch them. Likewise, the best opportunities lie in the corner of our life where there is the greatest risk.

Risk creates its own opportunity. So, it you don't see any obvious opportunities, it's because you are only looking within your safe zone - at the bottom branches of the apple tree where all the good apples have already been picked. Look instead to where the risks are the greatest as that is where the best opportunities are hidden in plain sight. If you want to taste the juiciest apples that life has to offer, you have to climb to the top of the tree where no one else has climbed before. By assuming risks that others won't, you will be alone with all the opportunities you can imagine.

Failure is Your Friend
Most people consider that the worst risk is that their intention fails and everything they were attempting to accomplish comes to naught. Most people realize that if they want to succeed at something of importance, there will be risks.   To go forward will entail risks.   Goals and opportunities of significance are usually found outside our current sphere of control and require us to step beyond our comfort zone to gain them. If our goals were easy, we wouldn't have to do much to achieve them, and thus most likely, we would have achieved them already. Most of the low-hanging fruit has already been picked. What fruit remains is likely growing on the upper branches, requiring some effort to get at them. Naturally, the best fruit hangs at the very top of the tree. Typically, high goals, require high risks. If there is no chance of failure in your goal, then you are not reaching high enough.

The reason people hold back from ambitious goals is not the hard work it takes, but instead, they hold back because there is a chance that their hard work might not yield the desired results. So, it is the fear of failure that so often holds us back from going after what we want.

This is only one way to perceive failure. There is another. Failure has been given a bad reputation as if failure were fatal. Instead, failure is just a result that we label any outcome that is less than what we had hoped for. People don't drown by falling in the water...they drown by staying there. Likewise, people don't fail by not succeeding. People fail by not learning the lessons that failure provides and quitting.

Failure is just a temporary state of affairs unless you decide to make it permanent and quit. Then, failure becomes permanent. Failure is your friend when you don't succeed the first time, because failure teaches what you need to know so you can try again more successfully. Failure is nature's way to telling you the right way to do something. With the lessons that failure teaches, you can move on towards success by doing what you learned.

So, failure is your friend if you take the time to learn the lessons it teaches you. It is acceptable to fail, but it not acceptable to be a failure. In every failure, there are important life lessons that if corrected, will lead to success. Don't be deterred by failure, because each failure brings you closer to the goal you seek. Some people "fail their way to success", one failure at a time until they eliminate all the wrong ways to get to their goal.

The Hidden Power of Quitting 
Most people won't quit while they are ahead and succeeding.  People only consider quitting when they are losing and facing failure in the face.  Most people would resist and protest any suggestion that they quit when the going get tough or  faced with pending failure. People don't like quitters. Most people would claim that success depends on perseverance and patience. So, why laud the power of quitting? Actually success depends on both staying the course and quitting. Surely, there can be no success if one were to quit every goal they ever attempted. There are times when it is proper to hang in there and keep slugging until all obstacles are overcome and victory is won. Sometime not! Every victory comes at a price...the price of going after some other, better more appropriate goal.
 
To pursue any opportunity, one must first free up resources, and that means quitting, abandoning, or suspending temporarily effort on other goals that were once important. If one never gave up, they might pit themselves mercilessly against the shoals of the impossible for all their days. Some goals are not ripe for the picking. Goals must be picked carefully. Like a book, some goals are to be tasted and then discarded while other goals need be chewed and digested.
So, don't be afraid of testing a goal and when you come face-to-face with the reality of the magnitude of the effort it will cost you to succeed, come to an informed decision to either quit or to persist. A wise man will take into account the prospective gain relative a sober assessment of the pain. Thus, half of the secret to living successfully is knowing when to quit. The other half to living successfully is knowing when not to.
 
Don't be afraid to test the waters of any goal. Based on what you find out, you need to make an early decision on whether to move forward or not. The best time to quit is at the very beginning while the investment is still small. However, it is wise to quit whenever you find out that the value of the goal is not worth the price or some other goal is more worthy of your efforts. Failure is always an option, and a good one if done for the right reason.
 
Embracing Failure - A Different Philosophy
If you use failure properly, failure can aid you in winning more often and bigger. The proper way to use failure is to fail early, fail small, and fail often. First, it is better to find out as early as possible what works and what doesn't work. As soon as you find out what doesn't work, stop doing what doesn't work and start doing what does work.

Second, it is better to fail when the stakes are small than when the stakes are large. If you are going to lose something because of a mistake, then make the amount subject to risk of loss small. It is better to fail when the stakes are low than when the stakes are high.

Third, it is better to fail often. This logic of many failures many seem counter-intuitive unless you consider that each failure teaches you what you need to succeed. The more goals you seek, the more often you will hit some failures along the way. So, failing often simply means that you are in the hot pursuit of many goals over your lifetime. People who fear failure won't try as often to get what they want out of life. On the other hand, people who are not afraid of fear will try every time they find an opportunity. People who see failure as their friend will eagerly move forward towards their goals, learning and correcting as they go.  The intent of failure is to find out what doesn't work so you can get back on the right track and succeed. So, give yourself permission to fail early, small, and often.
 
Control is Overrated
Granted, life is better when you can control your destiny and avoid risk and failure, but not everyone can be controlled.  Not everything is controllable all the time and in every circumstance. People who demand and strive for control are disappointed more frequently than those who do not.

The answer to life's problems is not more control. Since you cannot control everything, there will always be something you can't control. Our power extends to the edge of our control. Some people have a longer control reach then others but everyone has limits as to what they control.

Life gets interesting when you reach the end of your control. At this point, more control is not the solution. More control is not always the answer to our problems in life. So, what is better than control?

At the end of control, when we run our of our options to influence events, we have faith. What we need is more f faith in faith. What we need is simply more faith in our own innate abilities.  We can also have faith in the benevolent goodness of the higher powers that have more power than we do in guiding worldly events. We live balanced and joyful lives to the extent that we can rely on our faith to guide us when our control comes to a sharp end. Since faith is easier to come by than control, faith should be our first line of defense in coping in the world.
 

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Website last updated on 10/19/08
Copyright 2005 Charles W. Sooter.  All rights reserved.