During my Corporate America days, I spent a great deal of time working with people who were focused on managing the risks of the company. In the banking sector, the most obvious risk is the borrower who is unable to repay their loan. In every organization there is uncertainty, including financial, quality, security, or technology. But sometimes it is not so obvious. That’s why companies look at risk from many different angles, to analyze and consider both the known and the unknown. The better risks can be defined and understood, the more likely they can be mitigated or managed.
Now in the coaching business, I no longer spend time considering the risks of the banking industry. But I do still think about risk, particularly when it comes to managing life. And what I’ve learned is, when it comes to life, clients often have an incomplete view.
Before I go any further, I need to acknowledge that I am writing from the perspective of someone who is not living with the reality of being hungry today, or feeling unsafe. I am aware of, and sympathetic to, the needs of people in those situations. But that is not my day to day reality, and it’s probably not yours either. In our world, the risks are less immediate, more subtle, and often missed.
We all face the obvious, if unlikely, risks of a tragic car accident or the threat of cancer. The insurance industry exists to help us manage the financial impacts of these types of risk. But what about scenarios that go beyond the AFLAC duck’s ability to save? If you dig a little deeper, beyond the more obvious ones, what do you come up with?
I am a very analytical person, which means I am prone to analysis paralysis. Last year, as I was working through my decision to leave Corporate America, I spent a lot of energy contemplating the risks. The obvious were financial in nature—salary, health insurance—as well as the implied security of working for a large company. These were significant and held me in a state of indecision. However, once I realized I was only looking at the risks of leaving, the picture stated to get a little more clear. When I expanded my perspective to include the risks of staying, I uncovered a whole different set of risks to consider. These risks had to do with relationships, health, and living with purpose. It was this perspective shift that ultimately freed me from the paralysis and helped me make the move.
You may not be facing a job change scenario, but I suspect there is some decision in your life that seems risky. It may even feel a lot like fear; fear of leaving the known and pursuing the unknown. If this describes you, have you considered the risks of not making a change? If not, I suggest you picture yourself actually experiencing the ideal scenario you are considering and then note all the risks associated with staying put. You are familiar with the acronym FOMO (fear of missing out) used by advertisers to sell that must-have product. I propose you consider the ROMO—Risk of Missing Out—to ensure you’ve considered risk from all angles.
I don’t know your situation but I offer my story as encouragement and example of how examining risk can be helpful in initiating change. If you’re holding back on something because of the risk, have you considered the perspective of doing nothing? Regardless of how you decide to act, I encourage you to do so with a comprehensive view of all the risks.
Photo by Arnold Exconde.