Risking success

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I’ve been thinking about risk and self-belief recently, and the close relationship they have. To me, the ability to take risk is one of the things that defines an entrepreneur.Steve Jobs would take huge risks and people would say they were “calculated” – but by its very nature risk is still risk and you can only predict so much. The question is: how do you think about risk so it doesn’t stop you moving forward?

When you’re evaluating risk it’s vital to look at what that downside is and balance the risk with the potential benefit. I think when you’re starting out you don’t really consider things; it’s more a case of “I’ll take my chances”. But the possible consequence might not be just losing money, it might be a huge downside that sets you back for years to come.

Make a mistake when you’re young and you’ve got your whole life ahead of you to try again. When you’re older you’re more risk-averse, because you might not have time to do it all over again. But if you really are an entrepreneur at heart – whatever your age – you will take some kind of risk when faced with potential gain.

Another big factor in risk taking is the fear of failure. Many people are afraid to fail so they won’t put themselves in a position of vulnerability. Even if they do take a risk there is the question of what they do when they DO fail – and we all do fail.

Some never try again, but true entrepreneurs just keep going to the next thing. And I think that is because they also have the other piece of the puzzle – self-belief.

I know an individual who, even with nothing in his pocket, will always go forward, meeting with people and not showing any fear. He believes totally in what he’s trying to do and experience has told him he is good at what he does. I also see immense self-belief in his son – almost as much as in his father – but he doesn’t have that through experience.

So is self-belief born or learned? A bit of both, I think.

In my own case, there are certain things I know I can do. I know I just have to bring myself to a meeting and “it” will happen. I can rely on my brain, my business experience and strong innate abilities. That creates self-belief in me – which also mitigates risk (although faith is not a usual tool of risk assessment!)

Others get self-belief from their need to succeed. Occasionally you have no choice – you HAVE to succeed, and hunger drives you to surprise yourself. Sometimes the best thing that can happen to you is that your self-belief is tested. If you’re willing to risk that…

Ultimately, risk, embracing the potential to both win and lose at once, is one of the most valuable things you can embrace to grow in business – and as a person. Risk can be challenging but it makes you feel alive. Occasionally I think I’d like to cash everything in and not have to think of risk any more – but when a risk comes off it’s a wonderful feeling. And that’s a powerful incentive to keep stretching out into the unknown.

How do you approach risk in your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Tweet me, find me on Facebook or read more business blogs from me on Business2Community

My Week…

What I am reading….Right Entrepreneur Mindset: 55 Powerful Steps to Create, Cultivate, and Develop Your Entrepreneur Mindset for Success

What I am listening to….Simple Rules for Creating Great Places to Work on Soundcloud

What struck me….An internet without screens – TED talk

What I am looking at….The World is Upside Down