The most important word related to risk in my mind is "discernment." Not all risks are worth taking, but very many of them are. We hear stories over and over again about the people who reach the end of their lives and regret the fact that they never took any risks, that they never challenged life and stepped out and tried something that was beyond their current existence. It's sad when this happens, but it's very common--risk isn't easy for many people, and they pay a heavy price for letting their fear control their decisions about whether or not to take risks.
But again, not all risks are worth taking. Sometimes we find someone trying to talk us into taking a risk with them in a venture that will benefit them more than it will benefit us. Other times, we face risks to our safety or health that far outweigh the potential benefits of taking a risk. Climbing a cliff with no training and no experience is far too dangerous to be worth the possible adrenaline rush that will accompany the feat. The chance of falling is great, and the chance of getting hurt in such a fall is greater still. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't be willing to take the risk of cliff climbing--but if we want to do so, let's prepare ourselves for the risk, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
By the same token, a heavy financial risk in an unknown venture when you're hurting for money probably isn't a good idea, whereas a financial risk in a known venture with a trusted friend or associate may be.
Of course, we can't prepare for
every possible risk in our lives. Things come up quickly and
unexpectedly that force us to make decisions--risk it, or not? Should I
take the new job in a
Some people want to take care of every possible outcome of risk before they're willing even to take the risk. If I do this, then I'll arrange for the potential failure and have everything taken care of, they think. The bad news is that nobody's able to control life. We can try to minimize the risk for the sake of our families, but if we try to provide for every possible outcome, we're turning
the risk into a calculated venture, and we're trying to control it. We're trying to "minimize the risk." When we do this, we lose a great deal of the potential benefit of taking the risk, for we're only willing to take a partial risk.
On the other hand, isn't a partial risk better than no risk at all?
There's nothing saying that we have to take risks, but the lives and writings of many people who have reached the end of their lives with a great deal of regret over risks untaken show us that risk is something that can transform our lives. Risk makes us grow in many ways; it helps us to mature and to learn and to become stronger, wiser people than we were before we took the risk.
We have to enter risk with our eyes wide open, fully aware of the potential problems that could arise as results of our risk-taking. But we also need to weigh risks carefully before we ever take them to find out if they're worth taking or not. When you're faced with an opportunity to take a risk, remember that risks not taken can be disastrous, but so can risks poorly considered. Check it out, look it over, and think it through. If you're not prepared for it, prepare yourself--learn, train, study.
We can't control the risks or the outcomes of the risk--the only factor that's under our control when we enter a risk is our own state. Be aware and be alive--and remember that risks have the potential to be our greatest teachers, our strongest benefactors, and our best friends. It all depends on how we approach them.