Living & Coping with Risk

Living & Coping with Risk

Living with Risk

No one can tell you how to live your life. But it sure would be a shame if you didn’t make the most of the opportunity.

When you take a chance you may get the outcome you seek, or you may not. Regardless of the outcome, you do get points for trying. You gain wisdom, experience, and with the correct attitude, confidence. Some would say that you also benefit from excitement, an adrenaline rush, and from feeling alive.

An unhealthy attitude toward risk (taking too much or too little risk) has broad implications for a society’s ongoing health and prosperity. In short, the point is to respect risk, not fear it!

So go back to school, take that new job, start that company, list your patent, write your book, speak your mind, stand up for yourself.

You’re never too old or too young to take a chance. Don’t take other people’s ‘no’ for an answer. History is full of stories of risk takers being turned down by the establishment. The Federal Express business model was criticized by professors, Microsoft was ridiculed by IBM. Every day, great authors are turned down by publishers, future corporate standouts are turned down for jobs, and crucial scientific discoveries are called absurd.


Coping with Risk

In some cases, the presence of risk causes an extreme amount of anxiety, to the point that a person is unable to cope. In such cases it may be necessary to take a step (or several) back. No one can be expected to function under duress, especially over a prolonged period of time. The outcome of such protracted stress is rarely constructive.

In such cases the correct and responsible decision is to pull back and reduce uncertainty. From this new position of relative comfort, it is then possible to assess and understand the precise source(s) of the anxiety. In some cases it’s useful to seek the assistance of a professional. There is a variety of professionals with the skills to assist people. These include psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists. In many cases, the mere voicing of concerns, and an opportunity to discuss them in a safe environment, can be cathartic and a step closer to a positive resolution. Some people find that speaking with close friends works better than with a professional.

The key to alleviating long-term stress, however, is to avoid doing nothing. It’s important to take ownership of one’s concerns and to seek a resolution, whether through airing of concerns to a trusted friend or partner, or by seeking the guidance of a professional. If a person appears unable to seek help, it’s sometimes appropriate (and from a safety perspective, necessary) for a friend or family member to seek professional help on the person’s behalf.

Our society can be extremely unfair when it comes to risk and its effects on people. On the one hand society seems committed to making people face a steadily growing list of risks, yet on the other it occasionally behaves with a distinct lack of understanding when some people are overcome in the face of overwhelming uncertainty.

At one time or another, we all face risks that seem overwhelming. There is no shame in electing to reduce risk, and there is no shame in seeking help.

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