Medical injections and me are not the best of friends. Ever since childhood I have had a deep-seated fear & loathing of the needle.
But whilst avoidance might work as a strategy for some of the time, a lack of desire to do anything only serves to create problems further down life’s line. Progress requires me to befriend risk…
Needles aside, Hitchhiking is risk-based activity that is also cloaked in urban myth and mystery. I hitchhiked for over a decade without incident, yet the truth about roadside risk and related perils are a fair distance from media headlines; as this Freakonomics podcast seeks to demonstrate.
Mortal dangers & media hype
Unfortunately, to attract readers, many in the media would have us believe that mortal danger lurks everywhere – not just around every motorway junction.
As a result of media messages (combined with government legislation), a generation of people in the UK have grown up in a more risk-averse culture; which naturally inclines us to avoid rather than engage risk. To make the point about our culture, Cambridge academic, Dr Peter Lawrence made the headlines in 2014 when hospitalised after tripping over a fallen so called ‘safety sign’.
Critically, mass avoidance of risk is an economic time-bomb. If people at a younger age avoid, rather than befriend risk through complementary activities, their preparation for life is hampered. And of course, this impacts the UK’s entrepreneurial culture and specifically peoples’ ability to start-up and stay in business.
Befriend risk and manage it
Learning how to manage risk well necessarily means being exposed to new situations and dealing with difficult and even dangerous issues. Good outdoor education, for example, is an excellent environment for people to learn and discover new talents, confront weaknesses and ultimately build resilience and self-confidence. As a result, barriers in our minds are overcome and our lives are thus more fulfilling.
Author Pema Chodron wrote about why we should get acquainted with risk in her famous book ‘When things fall apart’. She says that rather than running away from situations we don’t like, we should always ‘stay a while’ and get used to our new surroundings.
Being able to immerse ourselves in difficult situations, writes Chodron, allows us to adapt and ultimately deal with unsettling issues. Time spent here provides us with a new and appropriate perspective as well as an understanding of the actual risk being experienced.
As the infographic highlights, courtesy of Funders & Founders, entrepreneurs need to have the ability to stick at what they are doing, especially when the going gets tough. Fleeing from a difficult situation is no way to solve a problem.
By being prepared to befriend risk and uncertainty in our younger years, we develop the necessary skill-set to take on bigger challenges later. We become more confident and determined and ultimately move to higher levels of achievement. Enterprise and entrepreneurship educators have a key role to play here, but the teaching of such messages should not be left just to their classes. For more on this, read about Frank Dawson and why torches were never needed for his dark, night-time woodland walks.
So if you like the idea of starting a business but don’t like the related uncertainties, practice with some small risks and build confidence from there. Meanwhile, I’m off to the docs to get my annual blood tests done so I get the right tablets to keep the ‘old ticker’ in working order.
Key Learning Points: Get acquainted with and befriend risk. Our ability to manage uncertainty almost defines what we are capable of achieving. Extending ourselves equips us with new skills and develops mental strength; two key attributes of people who create and grow businesses.