How much risk is really fear dressed in fancy clothes?
It’s easy to list 10 things that could go wrong for every one that might go stunningly right. Overwhelmed by negatives, we may fall into the default “no action” by studying more and more options or allowing other priorities to grab our attention. Are these negatives risks or ways of expressing our fears?
Risk is about uncertainty. How likely is it that we’ll achieve our goal and what happens if we don’t? What are the specific threats and how can we overcome them? These are questions we can answer, leading to actions we can take.
Fears, visceral reactions to future possibilities, might be reactions to threats or general concerns about making changes. If heeded, they can freeze our ability to think and act.
Many of us work to protect what we have, rather than actively seek what we want – thinking there is safety in the status quo. Standing still, though, is really not an option because stillness is an illusion. Movement and change are our natural state – the attempt to avoid them is fraught with risk to the well-being of individuals and organizations.
Shining the light on our perceptions of risk can reveal pathways for achieving our goals. Answering the key questions below sets the stage for success:
- What do we want to achieve? Does this reflect our current circumstances? How we can reconcile any conflicting priorities?
- What do we need to know to make good decisions about how to proceed? What relevant information can we access quickly? How can we include a variety of data and opinions?
- How can we measure progress and any changes in risk … then make any necessary course corrections?
Don’t be fooled by fears legitimized as risks. Knowledge can neutralize fears, reduce risk and uncover opportunities so you can move boldly toward your goal.