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## Risks are important. But how do you decide which ones are worth taking and when to be more calculative.

Risks are at the end just that... risks.. with a substancial probability of failure. Mostly everyone likes to believe they take risks in their own lives.. but we all have a degree of what we consider risks.. 'calculative risks' and a degree of intuition. Like i could take risks in careers and lifestyles, but not physical risks.
What process do you use to figure when to follow your heart and when to follow your brain and how to balance the two..

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• #### Dylan Juhasz

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Jun 11 2011: I would at least say this...

Imagine a car seat belt.. or a bike helmet strap.

In order to change its length around you, you need to push one side and pull the other until firm.

When to take a risk, is psychologically similar... lets call it a .. 1............25............50............75..........100 scale..

And we say, the two factors are input and output... then it would be the level that they meet in the center,

I could make a decision based on input being at 25.. and output in at 75... All in all, if both start out the outer, each person has their x and y axis...Something amazing!
• #### David Tucker

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Jun 5 2011: Sometimes you have to make a decision whether or not you know the outcome. In my experience, I feel out what is right through practice. Over time I have learned that even a "failed" risk was just what needed to happen in order for me to move to the next task. So, I believe with the proper idea in place all risks become desirable. "Good" and "bad". I just need to decide on how I am going to accept these risks before I engage in a risky situation.
• #### carole lyc

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Jun 4 2011: I've to say "Trust your heart but evaluate it with your head" & take only calculative risks. :)
• #### Lionel Leigo

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Jun 2 2011: Residual risk after controls are enacted is that which you are prepared to have occur, obviously corporate and financial risk is one thing and emotional risk is another, however our brain works out the quantum of risk and weighs it against the sacrifice necesssary to avert the risk the same way for both of these.
Also the Darwin awards are full of people who perhaps neglected to weigh up the risk vs reward and just got too emotionally attached to the reward outcome, we are seeing more and more of this with the break down of the family structure and other things becoming more important to people than friends and family members health and safety such as this planking act/idea.
There is another side to this which encompasses absolutely everything and that is;
If you image your life as a timeline presented before you, perhaps its about 80 years long, and it includes all of the big events and small events of your life and experiences, growing up, first love, friends, partners, family, your kids, all of it, we take calculated risks each day and its the outcome or rewards of these calculated risks which enable us to continue life, without the risk there is only monotonous living.
If you asked any decent teenage boy to conduct a risk assessment on asking a girl out for the very first time, the risks would be virtually unacceptable for him, but thats just as he see's it, ask him when he has been successful several times to conduct the same risk assessment, and its completely different, all of the risks are very acceptable.
• #### Colleen Steen500+

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May 31 2011: Any action we take in life is usually more successful if the heart and mind are working together toward our goal. I listen to, and follow the heart/intuition and use the logical mind to gather as much information as possible, which gives me a good realistic foundation for building on what the heart is seeking. I don't think about the possibility of failure, because I believe that every experience is an opportunity to learn, so however the adventure unfolds, there is a valuable lesson to be learned and I'm open to the possibilities with acceptance and curiosity. Going into a risk, I know I've done my homework, have information gathered with the logical mind that supports the risk, and am clear with the information coming from the heart/intuition. That, to me, is balance, and a necessary part of every risk I've taken in my life:>)
• #### Sarthak Pranit500+

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May 31 2011: The decision to take a risk involves the basic opportunity cost involved in every choice: i.e the gain and loss chart for each of the options. I would definitely say that the future of a decision lies in the regret factor associated if we take/dont take the risk. The important thing is evaluating the regret associated, not the risk. If we realize that the regret associated is not a trade-off for abstaining from the risk, we should take the risk. Studying what I gain or what I lose is an approach to pacify the brain, not the heart. Reason is not something that goes along with the heart. For the heart we need to evaluate our feeling towards a decision, hence we approach the regret associated with a decision. If we see that the regret we experience if we take a risk(if the risk turns out fruitful) is at a higher degree than the happiness associated if we dont take the risk (the risk is not fruitful), we should take the risk and vice-versa.
• #### Jason Lewis

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May 31 2011: If it involves fun I take the risk, if its involves money, I pass
• #### Prachi Gangwani

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May 30 2011: I always ask myself the question:

What will I regret more? Taking the risk but losing in the end, or never knowing what might be if I take the risk?

The answer is mostly the former and hence I end up taking risks. It does not always work, but it's worth it. Every failure has a lesson. Where would I draw the line? When the risk is untimely death, or harming someone else.
• #### Nicolas Haguet

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May 31 2011: Hi Prachi,

Very good question to ask itself.
I think a person who live a full and beautiful life answer "i take the risk" the most part of the time.

You can't be happy or evolve without taking risks
• #### James Walker30+

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May 27 2011: Hi Gordon
I like the thrust of what you're saying, but to be pedantic, i think you've reversed the literal meaning of Risks and Uncertainty.
It's true that we all meander through our everyday lives with habitual behaviour, but that unthinking routine is unthought abut, and unqualified, ie: it has a lot of uncertainties in it. We don't know WHAT will happen or WHAT question to even ask, or how BIG the event will be. That's an "Uncertainty"
A "Risk" is when we know WHAT the question is, ie: will is rain today, which horse will win the race, but not the MAGNITUDE or DIRECTION of the event.
So, a Risk is a good thing. It's calibrated and it's conscious. Dealing with Uncertainty is difficult. You could say, that it enhances your life to change Uncertainty into Risk, and encourage yourself to take Risks because they are known and calibrated. Agree with Gordon's ideas here, that don't sleepwalk through life, but a conscious life is about trying to parse Uncertainty from Risk, and focusing on taking measured Risk.
• #### Gordon Springate

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May 26 2011: I believe that risks are a measure of probability an individual ascribes to a decision; which is not a habit for them. Individuals make many decisions every day which are grounded in routine, or habit. These have no risk to the individual.

Uncertainties are something we can measure, in my view. People are challenged by them because usually they do not understand how broad the uncertainties can actually be. But risks, in my view translate to probabilities of occurrence. So therefore I believe uncertainty and probabilities are distinctly different. Resource industries (e.g., mining) generally prove this out.

I do understand when many here use the term gut feeling or intuition, and I ascribe that to each individual being able to process their life experiences and knowledge very quickly. The mind does enter into this!. A few here have mentioned similar comments.

In general, I think that people who “take a risk” (meaning there is a chance that a positive outcome may not occur) do not regret the outcome, whether up or down. The value of the positive outcome outweighs the chance that the negative outcome will occur. And people who are forward thinking will be like Ecaterina Sanalatii here, they learn from the negative outcomes!

I like Lindsay Bowker’s comments on “thinking” (my take on her words). People do not like change, and so it is difficult for them to want to accept new information that may cause then to have to change their paradigm! However, I acknowledge that everyone’s perception is their reality!

I must say that disagree with those who use the term “Risk Management”. There is no such thing. There are probabilities of outcomes, and the decision one makes based on their understanding of those probabilities decides whether the value of the positive outcome is worth the probability that a negative outcome may occur. One cannot manage risk, the probabilities are what they are!

Very interesting topic!
• #### James Walker30+

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May 25 2011: A Risk is worth taking, because it's calibrated. For example: Betting on a horse race, the odds are "fair" in that the market has cleared with odds that calibrate your Risk and return, so it's a risk worth taking.
An Uncertainty is a bigger problem... because you don't know what you don't know.
Risk is a good thing, and the more (calibrated) Risk we have in our lives the better. We should seek out Risk.
Uncertainty is a really bad thing, and we need to convert Uncertainty into Risk.
• #### Ecaterina Sanalatii10+

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May 24 2011: In answer to the second part of your question with regards to dealing with failure -

I think of my failures as a gift - by learning from failure, one can improve what one does and transcend current failure into future success.
• #### Salim Solaiman50+

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May 18 2011: Though in many ocassion decisions are qualitative and difficult to quanify the risk involved even it's not impossible.
One can think of different options of decision than rate them on scale of 1 to 10 (low to high or vice versa) than put rating (on the basis of experience, trend or even gut feel etc) to each option to find out one which one has got lowest risk involved.
• #### Brahim Elouafi

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May 17 2011: unless we take risks, learning is at stake.he who risk nothing gains nothing.if we relate risk taking to learning in general,
those who venture accumulate more learning than those who don't.take the example of an immigrant child who is urged to learn a second language, this little kid is more likely to pick up the language than an adult whose ego is a filter that hampers language learning.
• #### Justin Chong

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May 5 2011: Depends on the individual honestly I believe. If you are the type that likes to carefully plan out his actions, then the risk is taken if the pros outweigh the cons. If you are a person who is naturally confident in your actions, then the risks might not seem to be anything more than a decision; although to someone who isn't as confident, it could mean that fraction of a chance to speak his/her voice and so a lot more might be riding on the decision which turns into a risk. I guess what I'm trying to say is that maybe some things that you see as a risk might not really be risks to others. I am saying this because you said it's not physical risks you are talking about so physical danger is out of play.
• #### Puneet Rakheja50+

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May 4 2011: Thank you all for your wonderful replies. The consensus here seems to be about following your heart/gut feeling/mind and even some suggesting about calculated/measured risks. I don't think anybody could argue with that.

i have realized that what one calls risk is a very personal definition. Its the idea of stepping outside your own comfort zone. And we all, hopefully do this in our own little and big ways. The bigger the risk, the more one tends to lose in the bargain. While we all like to celebrate the vistories after the risk, we must also acknowledge the courage it takes to fail.

Taking this further.. how do you guys deal with the failures of these risks? Yes i know its all about growth, but sure there is always some remorse too right? or maybe not.. would love to hears some personal experiences of yours..

Thanks again for a stimulating conversation..
• #### Quanxiang Loo

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May 17 2011: I cycle at night. Recently I've been doing a lot of hands-free cycling. I don't wear a helmet or any other form of protection. I know that each time I take my hands off the handlebars I take a risk. I even do it when cycling downslope. I can't reach for my brakes in time if anything happens. But it just feels so great doing it. Last night I fell off my bike at the start of a downslope descent. I only got some minor abrasions as my bicycle hadn't picked up speed yet. If I had fallen just two seconds later after accelerating I might have fractured a bone or something. Statistically, if I were to continue cycling dangerously week after week, I'm likely to end up in a bad accident sooner or later.

I've been thinking of backpacking alone to countries like Thailand and even Brazil. Is it safe? I'm not sure. But the lure of adventure is difficult to resist.
• #### Alma Lopez-Johnston

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May 19 2011: Take care with that bike!

Backpacking alone requires common sense..
• #### Armin Saage

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May 3 2011: For me the problem in risk - taking is, that we sometimes tend to take risk -believing- that we just want to solve problems. In fact causes for this risk - taking could be non - known by the decider:
- as a former risk-calucator in the health - insurance I could daily see how young men take more risks in driving than young women. But did they not both want to reach a place in time?
- you can observe in many places, that risk - taking in order "not to loose pride" seens a often times done between fighting young man.
- flying to other countries to bomb "enemies" could be another risk taken.
But what are the real individual, political reasons to take risks?
Very often - afterwords - we find that "only this time" risk-taking was not a good decision .... :-)
• #### Heidi Wall

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Apr 30 2011: Taking risks has to do with the flavour of a persons approach to life. If a risk is defined as a choice that implies an unknowing outcome, then one could view every single choice we make as a risk, once we realize that control really only a figment of our imagination. We might feel like we're in control on a good day, but probably we only think this to keep ourselves sane :)
The risk taker acknowledges our frailty and is free to be outrageous within it.
• #### Mr Kebabsoup

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Apr 28 2011: Mhh I guess it depends the situation. It's always good to do a good thinking before any action I guess. But sometimes, you deeply know that you should take a risk but you're afraid of it, and you overthink, trying to find excuses not to do it. In that case, I'd say do it.

On the other hand, sometimes, you don't really control yourself anymore, panick attack? Euphoria? Anger? Pride? and you take big risks without really giving a good thought. That's the moment you should start to think it's not such a good idea.

Anyway, I think it's also important to be reminded that we are rarely alone. Our choices can have consequences for others as well. (Family, friends especially) If you want to take some big risks, I think it's wise to share and talk, at least with the people who will also be directly involved by the risks you want to take.
• #### Peter Roddis

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Apr 28 2011: Chip and Dan Heath perhaps capture this in Switch with the analogy of the elephant and driver as emotional and rational. The gut feeling is usually the elephant not wanting to change and being very difficult to move. As Lindsay says 'our sense of security arises from feelings not facts'. So its very difficult to motivate the elephant to change, even when it may be the right thing to do. You need to feel energized hopeful and creative to motivate the elephant. You need to understand how the heart and the mind interact.
Peter
activesafety.org
• #### Lindsay Newland Bowker50+

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Apr 27 2011: I just saw Bruce's talk on secuirity which is very germane to this discussion. Well worth seeing. He basically says that our sense of security ( which we could say is perceived risk) arises from feelings not fact and that we build models of reality that include our feelings, our observations, what we hear and see but that basically we are very resistent to updating our model or allowing any new information that contradicts our model to have any effect. In application to this discussion on personal risk..that most of us are alined with what we perceive as risk and maybe not fully connected with what is at risk in our lives. ( I will add the link via edit)
• #### Melody Austin

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Apr 27 2011: A risk is only worth taking if it means something to you. It doesn't matter if you are more of the calculated type or the impulsive personality. We know that risk are worth it, because we feel they will make things better for ourselves or for someone else. When you believe something is that good, then the negative consequences don't hold any value.

Basically our decision comes down to personal beliefs is what is good. That decides most risk that we take and how we look back on them after the consequences have already surfaced.
• #### George Spilkov

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Apr 26 2011: It is called Risk Management and there is extensive literature on this issue in various domains of human knowledge.
Biological systems are also a subject of risk related studies ( for example the Fight-Flight behaviour).
• #### Lindsay Newland Bowker50+

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May 1 2011: Well, chiming in as a Risk Manager, I would say that what we are speaking of here, personal risk management, is very different from the field of Risk Mangement which is concerned mainly with property & casualty lossses, most of which is insurable.The kind of risk management we are speaking of here, I think is not about property and casualty losses..it's about personal risk..isn't it? How we balance head and heart in making decisions that affect our lives or the lives of others. ..and what makes us take extraordinary risks? What do you think of the apparent consensus here that most people "just know" what is worth doing?
• #### Stephen Booth

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May 17 2011: Not all risks are insurable, not all risk management is about property and casualty losses. Insurance is only one example of risk containment (Transferance, you transfer the risk to someone else) and is only applicable to to certain types of risk. I tend to deal with a lot of projects that have a lot of uninsurable risks such as reputation and 2nd to market type.

I tend to apply the same principles (although possibly not a rigourously) in my personal life as I do in my professional life. How likely is this risk to occur? How big an impact will it have if it does occur? What can I do to prevent it occuring or at least reduce the probability? If it does occur what can I do to reduce/mitigate the impact? What is the impact of not doing the thing that leads to the risk sop avoid the risk entirely?

For example crossing the road means risking being run and and injured or killed (high impact) and in a city that is quite likely. Most of the time I cannot avoid the need to cross the road (I have to go to work, go to the shops &c else I'll be unemployed and starve) so I must take the risk (cannot avoid). I could walk around in a helmet and body armour to protect me from an impact and cushion any blows or falls but that would be expensive and may lead to mockery. I could look both ways when I cross the road, use designated pedestrian crossings in the way they are designed to be used and cross in places where I have a clear view of the road and drivers have a clear view of me so we can avoid each other. This reduces the risk of crossing the road to an acceptable level.

Another example, snow boarding is a sport that carries with it the risk of being injured or dieing by hitting a rock at great speed. The probability if this is very high and research has shown that whilst body armour will reduce the severity of the impact somewhat it's not by much. I am not compelled to snowborard and don't liek it so i avoid the risk and do not participate.

Stephen
• #### Lindsay Newland Bowker50+

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Apr 24 2011: the heart doesn't measure risk..it just says I can do this..I will do this...and somehow it does.