How to Think About Risk

This post is by Reid Hoffman from Reid Hoffman

How to think about risk

Risk tends to get a bad rap. We associate it with things like losing money in the stock market, or riding a motorcycle without a helmet. But risk isn’t the enemy—it’s a permanent, pervasive, unavoidable part of life.

Risk is the flip side of every opportunity, every career move. When George Clooney aggressively auditioned and sold himself for ER, it was a risk: The show could have been a high-profile flop, dragging his career down with it. There is literally no career opportunity in the world that’s worth talking about that is risk-free.

The thing is, we are not all equally skilled at how we deal with risk. Some people think they’ll achieve career stability by minimizing risk. We’ve all heard a million variants of “I’m going to stay at my job because at least it’s stable and a steady paycheck.” Ironically, though, in a changing and increasingly unpredictable world, succumbing to complacency is one of the riskiest things you can do. Inaction is often much riskier than action.

Others reveal their ignorance about risk by acting as though it’s a sign of weakness to acknowledge the possible downsides in a plan. “Failure is not an option!” may make for a good movie line, but it’s no way to formulate a career strategy. Of course failure is possible; failure is always possible, and in fact it’s even more likely if you pretend risk doesn’t exist.

Risk is everywhere. And that’s okay. You just need to learn to work with (Read more...)