I am excited to have my friend, Doug Schneider, present this Friday on the topic of risk. While originally scheduled for a live session at Zingerman’s Roadhouse, once again I’ve had to cancel that and move it to a Zoom meeting.
The reason why I am moving to Zoom is that both my wife and I have been diagnosed with Covid this weekend. So far, we are doing well. We both are going to take Paxlovid which is supposed to help with lessening symptoms. This is the third time I have attempted to bring back Leaders Connect live and each time I’ve had to cancel because of the spread of Covid. We are now in almost a third year of having to manage the Covid pandemic.
One thing about Covid is that it has taught us a lot about risk, which is the topic that Doug will be addressing on Friday.
All of us have had to manage risk in ways that we never imagined.
to go out or to stay in,
to keep a business open or to close it,
to take up to four vaccines or not,
to keep schools open or not,
to work from home or to go into the office, etc.
I’m sure you can add dozens of these dilemmas to the list.
To make decisions about Covid we have all had to understand the risks as best as we can. This means tapping into sources of information which will help us. However, as we can see in retrospect, the sources of information provide wildly different points of view. Like so many other facets of our lives, decision making and risk taking about Covid have become politicized.
When we think of risks, we think of big risks like changing a job, getting married, moving, changing careers, etc.
However, risk is something we have to manage every day. We are risk taking animals. Virtually every move we make, we have to think about the probability that it will be the right move. This breaks down to even small things in life like: walking somewhere or taking the car, to reward our children or punish them, using the chair or a step stool to reach something on the shelf, to grab the umbrella or not.
To better understand risk in your own life, be aware of the choices you make in the course of the day.
What Did We Learn About Risk That We Didn’t Expect?
From Doug Schneider
In researching our book, The Risk Paradox, my co-author Alan Ying, and I interviewed 102 people from all walks of life about risk.
We heard some genuinely incredible stories of triumph, disaster, and everything in between.
But we also found some things that really surprised me.
I always thought people would take their biggest risks at the “right time” in their life and career. This turned out to be far from the case. People we interviewed took huge risks after being diagnosed with serious illnesses, after separating from their spouse, after business failures, after the death of a close family member, after they had been offered and declined a huge promotion. Some of these risks worked out amazingly well. Most people (I included) are inclined to take risks “when they can afford it” financially.
Yet, we interviewed many people who held completely the opposite view – “when you have nothing, you have nothing to lose.” It turns out that risk taking isn’t just about your head- it’s about your head and heart. We call the illusion that you need to wait for the right time to take a risk the “The Right Time Fallacy” in the book.
We also uncovered an interesting insight into risk taking when we learned about the questions people ask themselves when considering risk. Many people who shied away from risk asked themselves, “what could I lose if I take this risk?”.
Yet, some people who took huge risks asked themselves an entirely different question – “If I don’t do this, when I look back on my life at the end will I regret not having this experience?” You might think of this as the “rocking chair test.”
Asking this latter question seemed to free people to think more expansively about their life.
We found that people regret much more, later in life, the risks that they avoided rather than the risks they took where they face-planted. (When people told us about their big failures, there was often quite a bit of self-deprecating humor in the story.)
One more learning/ clarification.
We tend to think about risks as being about money, and it’s true that money is also involved. But some of the bigger risks we heard about were not financial in nature – leaving a family business, risking a reputation or relationship, seeking more purpose, and meaning in your life.
We concluded that risk is part of life, no matter what your financial circumstances.
Please join us via Zoom on Friday at 8:00 AM to learn more about these fascinating findings and to be able to connect with folks you haven’t seen in a while. We will be using breakout groups to try to facilitate networking. We also will go from 9:15 to 9:45 AM to focus strictly on networking. Looking forward to seeing you all virtually.
Hopefully, by December we will be safe to meet in person, probably with masks.
Regarding current risks in managing them: get your latest vaccine, get a flu shot, wear masks where possible, and enjoy every day.