I’m an optimistic person. There is a certain level of self-assuredness to me. Perhaps at times it borders on annoying and perhaps at other times it’s exactly what is needed. But where does it come from? Risks.
This blog often hits on entrepreneurship. For me it’s an “of course” part of my life and I encourage everyone to make it a part of theirs. Why? Because it is so challenging.
Another area that I don’t mention very often, but is pretty risky as well, is art. Creating something from nothing just for the sake of it. I remember when I was younger I would try my hand at different expressions, whether it was a poem, a sculpture, or a song. I didn’t quite have a knack for others to experience my creation the way I did. It didn’t hurt my feelings, but the positive feedback loop wasn’t there. What I learned from it is to let others know when I enjoy their artistic endeavors. They took the risk of sharing with me; they chanced vulnerability for my opinion.
I started contemplating this because William Gurstelle wrote a short piece on Wired.com called Take Smart Risks. The gist of it is there is a correlation between taking risks and happiness. He suggests taking risks that are in the sweet spot for reward. Here are a few excerpts:
Among our primitive ancestors, those who ventured farthest from their caves in search of better food or who overcame their fear of fire accrued significant advantages over their meeker kin. That’s why a lot of us like the idea of living on the edge: It’s in our DNA to take risks.
A 2005 German study concluded that people who take above-average risks have a higher-than-average index of life satisfaction. Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that among business managers in the US and Canada, those who take greater risks are the most successful. More risk, more reward—not to mention livelier cocktail-party conversation.
The most successful adventurers take the high road of risk-taking without falling off the mountain. They channel neither Evel Knievel nor Caspar Milquetoast, neither lion tamer nor monk. That’s the golden artof living dangerously.
And here is a comment I thought was great:
That study of risk takers vs. non risk takers is probably biased. The random sample of people interviewed most likely didn’t include people that were dead or in prison as a result of the risks they took.
And it is very true, but sometimes risks are compounding and other times they are isolated. It’s important to distinguish when something that appears to be isolated is really starting to compound.
I’m going to Las Vegas in a few weeks and I will place a number of wagers. I will probably lose more than I win. It doesn’t really matter. What I want is the thrill of looking over the options and saying, I believe this will be the future. I will watch to see if it happens and when it does I’ll be excited. When it doesn’t, I’ll just risk again.