Risk-Taker or Risk-Killer?
I remember a summer when I was visiting my sister. I had traveled from Chicago, IL to Minnesota with two young kids, ages 2 and 4. She also had two little kids and the four of them played together beautifully. I recall during this visit I had left the room for a few minutes and returned to see my two-year-old son standing on the top of a glass table. My older sister was just sitting there, which surprised me at the time. I lifted him from his perch and set him down, informing him not to climb on the table again. My sister looked at me and said, “I was considering if I should take him down or not, and I was a little nervous watching him stand on the table. But I tried to guess what you’d do, and I figured you’d allow it since you let your kids take a lot of risks.”
This floored me. I had never considered myself much of a risk-taker, so that comment provoked some introspection. I realized that my definition of a “risk taker” created the context by which I judged myself. I noticed that I do take risks, but certain elements will either encourage or discourage me from doing so. This isn’t just true for me. Everyone has a certain make-up that draws out their confidence or their fear when presented with any risk.
First, let’s define risk-taking so that we are all on the same wave. Risk-taking is the act of going forward into an unknown when there is a chance that something you value could be lost. The greater the value, the higher the risk. The more clouded the unknowns are, the greater the risk. We live in the world of low risk decisions and meet them head-on without much thinking every day. Every time we get in our car and drive to the store, we are facing the unknowns of other drivers, sudden weather changes, a tire blowout, some dude with road rage, but the value of getting to where we want to go outweighs the risk. We also face high-risk opportunities every day and decide to sit them out. Something we value could be lost, and the unknowns deter us from stepping forward. Sometimes we surprise ourselves when we take a big risk. For some reason, we say yes instead of no. A lot of your risk-taking behavior can be predicted by your personality.
Your personality can actually offer some significant, bright insights into your relationship with risk-taking. Some people, like me, are drawn to the risk-taking that brings fun, comradery, new opportunities or the chance to inspire others. They don’t need much more than a spark of possibility, a group of enthusiastic people, and freedom to do it creatively to jump head-long into the adventure. My husband is drawn to risk-taking like a duck to water. It’s in his blood and is essential for life. When risk-taking offers him challenge, personal advancement, and the chance to take the lead, I have learned to get out of his way! He will charge forward, often without looking at all the details, believing he can fix any problems along the way.
Maybe this isn't you.
Some personalities resist risk-taking, but are the best at coming behind others, offering support and encouragement, while staying outside of the line of impact. They won’t lead the charge; they prefer to remain in the safe pace of routine and predictability. But these are the people that are happy to do the less exciting background support. They may not take risks, but without them, this world would fall apart. There is another personality type that doesn’t just resist risk, but they can talk others out of taking risks. They are the most calculating, analytical, and critical minds of all. They will question and puzzle through a risky circumstance, consider all the angles and possible outcomes, and make a decision when it isn’t a risk anymore.
So, some of us are natural risk-takers. Some of us are natural risk-killers. Some of us fall somewhere in between. However, all of us grow more resilient, creative, and confident by taking risks. We all can accomplish important, worthwhile things for ourselves and others by taking risk.
Each of us have our strengths as well as our challenges that may lead us to success or failure in the process. Some act without thinking, and that can create problems for families, teams and themselves. Some are excellent starters but lose their focus and don’t finish. Some are so hesitant in making decisions that they make their decision by not making the decision. Some see the unknowns as a challenge to control and drive everyone around them crazy. We all have our ways.
Whether it’s taking a risk by speaking our truth despite opposition, starting an organization or business before fully ready, inviting guests over when hospitality isn’t a natural strength, setting boundaries with a difficult person, or allowing your teen to step out more toward independence, facing your own risk with strength and courage brings success regardless of how that thing turns out. There are always unknowns. There will be elements outside of our control that impact the outcome. But taking a risk, especially when something we value is at stake, is part of living an abundant, fulfilling life. It requires us to understand our weaknesses, lean into our strengths, acquire outside resources, and grow comfortable with the unknown.
The key is understanding the unique person you are. With more self-awareness, we can also more understand, relate, and adapt to working successfully with others. DISC personality coaching provides a way to gain insights into why we feel, think and act how we do, and provides growth for us to appreciate, understand, communicate and value all people. As a Certified Life Coach and Certified Human Behavior Consultant, I can partner with you individually, or with your team, and help you LOVE risk-taking.