Erin Lausten

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What is there to fear in risk?

Posted by erinlausten on May 3, 2011

There has been a lot of risk taking going on and it brings up some pretty interesting thoughts. We just saw how our military and administration took a huge risk going over to Pakistan to get Osama Bin Laden and what happened there. And no matter how you look at it, they took a huge risk. Huge. In the terms of lives, effects (political and otherwise), and the list goes on. Imagine if they had been unsuccessful. We know they did. They knew what was on the line and they made the decision to go. And this is the story that I want to focus on today.

Risk. It seems like a simple concept. We often hear about it regarding major financial matters, dare devils, military actions, etc. And all those definitely have aspects of heavy risk. But, we forget that everyday is rife with risk. And humanity is inherently wary and at times terrified of it.

But it is all relative to perceived risk. When a person jumps out of an airplane most of us are in complete agreement that the risk is extreme, the perceived outcome one of two things. Life and Death. But this same risk is faced everyday by those of us that jump in our cars, throw it in drive and head to work. The risk isn’t any less. Everyday I face Life and Death on the Freeways. I can reduce that risk by driving safe myself, but I have no control over those around me and therefore the risk is momentous. But skydiving is seen as a risk taking behavior and commuting to work is not. And this is a matter of perception.

The same goes for things that do necessarily end in death. We make choices everyday and everyday we have to determine what we perceive as a risk and that which is not. I choose a degree and there is no guarantee that there is success. I choose to borrow money and I have no possible way to know that I will be able to pay it back. There is every intention, and we can make educated decisions based on past experience and observations, but we can never really know.

And so, this brings me to my personal experience. I am writing. I am writing a lot. I have decided to put my efforts toward a life and dream that has no guarantee of being a success. I can do quite a bit to try to mitigate the impacts and likelihood of the risk involved, but I cannot know for certain that I will be successful.

But does this mean I should not do it? That I should look for a safer less risky direction to follow? And my answer is no. Because every choice and every direction is risky. It is based on perception of risk. For me, continuing on a safe route (in this case working a 9 to 5) is far riskier than trying for my dream. I know I will become less happy as time goes on if I do not give it a shot and see if I am successful. For me the risk is not failure. I may fail at this. But that isn’t the point. Because I may also win. If I do not try I fail by default and to me, that is a bigger problem.

Risk is often associated with a fear of failure. But failure is related to perception. If I see not trying as a failure then that itself is also a risk. One that guarantees a certain outcome. If I do not try to be a writer I risk not being a success. Why would I risk not being a success? I prefer to risk being a failure, because at least then there is a possibility of being a success.

So there you have it. The reason I can do this is because I cannot risk not to.


One Response to “What is there to fear in risk?”

  1. William Kendall said

    Well said.

    And the non writers in our lives will never, ever get this.

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