I was listening to a message by a minister the other day and he was exhorting people that God made us to be more proactive than reactive in our living. That we need to step out into the battle of life with more courage. His thoughts made me think of the need for taking risks at times in our lives.
Now me and risk taking do not get along too well. On Holland personality assessments I usually come up as a low Enterpriser as I like to play it safe and stay away from stepping out into the risk taking zone. Some time ago I read the book, Take The Risk by Dr. Ben Carson with Gregg Lewis. In the beginning part of the book he reminds us that every day is filled with risks. That made me feel better. Maybe I am better at risk taking than I thought! Think of just driving in a car. When I see all the crazy antics that occur on the roadways I am amazed there are not more accidents than what there really are. Just getting behind a wheel of a car is a risk. We were at a hotel this weekend that offered free breakfast. As I made the waffle I noticed a sign warning that the waffle grid was hot. Duh! How else does the waffle become hot and crispy! The waffle sign is letting one know of the risk of getting burnt taking out the waffle, (of course so the hotel does not get sued – remember the McDonald’s coffee case!).
Back to the Take the Risk book. Dr. Carson shares stories from his life and the lives of his patients and shows how risks were taken so his patients could have a better life. I have read a couple of reviews on the book on Amazon who felt the myriad of risk stories were overkill to fill up pages. I disagree. He is showing that risk taking occurs in numerous area of our lives and we can follow the same plan in each situation to evaluate whether to take the risk.
Not every risk is the best thing to do. I remember hearing Dr. Krumboltz on the issue of risk taking and creating our own luck. He mentioned if you take the risk of parachute jumping you better be wearing a parachute. We need to think through the risks we take and not be foolish. Many senseless risks and ensuing injuries are caused by people not thinking through what they are doing. Which touches on the topic of critical thinking, I have discussed before. Think before taking the risk.
Dr. Carson presents a series of questions which I believe helps encapsulate good critical thinking before deciding on which way to go with a risk. I definitely suggest you read his book but here are his key questions you can ask yourself when faced with an important risk venture in your life. I recommend taking a piece of 8 ½ x 11 paper and divide it into four quadrants. At the top write what is the risk you are deciding upon? Then write these four questions in each quadrant:
1. What is the worst that could happen if you do the risk?
2. What is the best thing if you do the risk?
3. What is the worst thing that could happen if you don’t do the risk?
4. What is the best thing that could happen if you don’t do the risk?
Next go question by question and brainstorm ideas in the quadrant that relates a way to view the risk you are facing a decision on. As in brainstorming, just come up with ideas-- they can even be zany. This is not the time to make judgments. Write down the possible consequences you may face.
After you have your brainstorming done; now put your critical thinking cap on and rate the ideas in each of the quadrants as to how important they are to your life. Be even creative by writing a little story down of what you think your life would be like in each of the four quadrants. This may help visual the better route to take. Do I take the risk or take the risk of not taking the risk, as even that is a risk. The key is you can have more peace about the risk situation if you have worked it through as to what is best for you.
Of course, if you are a person of faith then a necessary element is praying over this whole risk taking exercise as well. That will give you extra assurance that He is guiding your thoughts as you reflect over the options.
To risk or not to risk? That is the question. I believe these four questions from Dr. Carson can be a positive help in our being more proactive in living a more than ok life with the big risks that come our way.
Think over a risk that you are facing possibly a job change, a move, a plan to go on for further education. Take a sheet of paper and work that risk situation through the four questions and see what you come up with? Write down what you felt about the activity.