Often we know what it is we want to do,
but we still don’t do it. As you look back on your life today, did you wish you would be here today, wherever you are now?
Be it a life of a student or someone in his/her early forties or late thirties, we do take certain decisions that maybe we loved taking or maybe we took just for the sake of it. Perhaps you
relate. We feel we could be little braver, could have trusted ourselves more, and been less cautious in the chances we took. Something triggers mind.Yeah! But Why?
Its because we are innately risk averse and afraid of putting our vulnerability on the line.
In other words, we find it much easier to settle with the status quo, keep our mouths closed and our heads down rather than make a change, take a chance, or speak up and engage in what I call a “courageous conversation.” If we analyze whether an action that could leave us vulnerable to failing or some other form or loss (of reputation, money, social standing, pride etc), we have an innate tendency to misjudge four core elements in assessing risk.
1. Under-estimating our ability to handle the consequences of risk.
While I hate to say it, women are the biggest culprits when it comes to underestimating their abilities and buying into self-doubt. Often we let our misgivings about whether we have what it takes to succeed get the better of us.
Resultantly we avoid taking on new challenges (or proactively pursuing new opportunities) because we don’t trust sufficiently in our ability to rise to the challenges they involve.
2. Over-estimating the probability of something going wrong.
While assessing risk, potential losses tend to loom larger than potential gains ie, we tend to focus more on what might go wrong – what we might lose or sacrifice –
than what might go right as that tends to magnify in our imaginations, and it causes us to misjudge (and over-estimate) the likelihood of it occurring.
3. Exaggerating the consequences of what might happen if it does go wrong.
We come up with dire and dramatic
worst-case scenario images in our minds-
eye. Rather than assume that we would act quickly to head off or mitigate a situation if things started going off track, we imagine everything spiralling shockingly out of control while we passively stand by,conjuring up images of ourselves destitute, shunned by our family, ostracized by our peers and forever shamed by our failure. This is what I refer to as ‘catastrophizing.’ Ok, Maybe you don’t catastrophize quite so dramatically.
But the point is, we are psychologically coiled to exaggerate how worst things could be if our plans didn’t work out, and we deny to appreciate our ability to interfere to brush off the further impact.
4. We discount or deny the cost of inaction, and sticking with the status quo
We come up with excuses for why sticking with the status quo is a feasible option; why playing safe and not putting ourselves at risk of failing or looking foolish is ‘sensible.” Whereas in reality, things that aren’t working out well for us now only tend to get worse over time, not better, and issues remain unrecognised in our relationships and lives tend to grow bigger, not smaller.
We tell ourselves “It’s not so bad” and delude ourselves with the hope that our
circumstances will somehow just get better over time and things will just ‘sort themselves out.’
These four different human tendencies
working together help to explain why so
many supposedly smart people find themselves living in such a restricted circle of their potential, feeling dissatisfied in their careers, stuck in their relationships, and living lives they would never have chosen, much less have aspired to.
So how do we overcome our tendency to play safe and identify which risks are worth taking? Well for now, start by asking yourself
these three questions.
1. What would I do if I were being more brave?
2. How will inaction cost me few year
s from now if I do nothing?
3. Where is my fear of failure causing me
to over-estimate the size of risk, under-
Whatever answers comes into your mind, note them! They are pointing you to a
brighter future that you can only create
when you commit to taking bolder, more
decisive and courageous actions. Fear regret more than failure – history has
shown that we fail far more from timidity
than we do from over daring. Or to say a
little Latin: Fortes fortuna adiuvat.
“Fortune favors the bold.”.
Risks play a vital role in life in order to be a better person.