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Why Risk Taking Means Pushing Others out of the Way

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Life is about risks.

However, it is important to know that all risks are not created the same.

Sure, you take a risk with that new job, buying a new house, or speeding down the highway to get to work on time. If you reflected on the risks you took with each of those life journeys, is the risk the same? My answer to you is, yes. And I absolutely mean it.

See, when I look at taking a new job, buying a house, or speeding down the highway, there is risk built into each of these things; however, I see it as normal risk. Meaning, it is a little scary and I have already given consideration of the outcomes and know I should be OK if everything remains constant:

  • I make more money and I am able to  meet the expectations of the new job
  • I remain employed and can make the mortgage payment
  • I speed down the highway, it’s a 50/50 chance I will get caught, but if I do then I can pay the ticket

I consider these types of actions normalcies in life. Regardless of economics or demographics, we all face these normal types of risks. They might be a little different for others, but we each face them day-to-day.

So, what isn’t a normal risk then?

Have you ever been in a situation where regardless of all things you factor in – positives, negatives, consequences, or outcomes – you still aren’t sure? Now throw on top of that feelings of fear, anguish, excitement, elation. These are those situations that are beyond normal risk.

Ever drop $50,000 cash to buy into a startup? What about quit your job to start up a consultancy with no clients? How about buy a flip house, but you know nothing about flipping houses? Or take on a project at work with no working knowledge to lead it or make it successful?

All of these situations take risks on the unknown where you cannot always foresee how it will end up. And these are situations as I see it where people either step up or step out. Just like there are born leaders, there are born risk takers.

And people who are successful in taking risks know it requires pushing others out of the way. I might get some flack saying that, but high risks mean pushing others out of the way to drive the desired outcome. The example I utilize to make this point is driving on the highway.

Regardless if it is a two-lane or six-lane highway, we all know the fast lane is made for those people who are passing or in most cases, speeding. The people speeding many times are speeding beyond the point of normal risk.

Let’s just say on a 65 mph city stretch, they are going 80+ mph. You’re cruising down the highway in the fast lane with the other speeders and all of a sudden you have to slow down or in some cases stop. But, the slow lane continues to move forward (I don’t know about you, but this drives me absolutely crazy!).

When you finally start moving again, it is still slow so you decide to move to the slow lane to get ahead. When you finally get far enough, you realize there is one person who decided to get in the fast lane, but actually drive the speed limit. I consider these type of drivers those who take normal risks, but thought today they wanted to take a high risk and get in the fast lane. It isn’t until a high risk taker forces the normal risk taker back over to the slow lane, that all the other high risk takers can move forward again.

Life unfortunately is a lot like this.

There are people who think they can take high risks, but really they are just in the way. It isn’t that these people are bad, but rather these people do well ensuring the day-to-day gets accomplished. No more, no less.

If you are a person who one might consider a high risk taker or are put into a situation where you become a high risk taker, it is important to keep some things in mind (as I have learned through those opportunities and projects of high risk):

  • Pushing others out of the way is crucial sometimes, but remember to do it professionally and keep in mind these people are still getting the day-to-day tasks completed
  • Gather feedback along the way to understand your impact – this includes honest, open self-reflection
  • Be nimble – know how to react quickly, but with knowledge consideration of past, current, and future
  • Anticipate roadblocks and have alternate plans to continue forward
  • Share knowledge appropriately
  • Mentor others along the way
  • Celebrate the success

So, the next time you are out on the road, keep in mind what kind of risk taker you are being for the day if you are holding up the fast lane

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