Life is a Risky Business

By: Ken Keis

"There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction."
-John F. Kennedy

Life is a Risky Business!

Risk is the exposure to POSSIBLE loss or injury.

Some people donít enjoy their lives because they are not taking enough risks or are taking too many! (Iíll explain the second one later.)

When lifeís many opportunities present themselves, some individuals look only at the exposure to the risk and the possible loss. They donít consider the possible gains. This approach completely freezes them emotionally, thus they donít engage the opportunity or risk. They let the possibility of loss or injury stop them from acting.

Every day when you leave your home, you take risks?the risk of being hit by a car, catching the flu, getting food poisoning, for example.

If a friend constantly verbalized these concerns, you would dismiss him as a worrier or maybe even mentally unstable! What about you!? What has not taking risks cost you? Yes, you! Are you merely living half your potential, because the comfort of the known seems more important than the unknown?

I am a risk-taker but I have been a risk-avoider, as well. About 24 months ago, I started investing in real estate. In our area, homes had not increased in price for almost 10 years; there were many potential deals to be had.

Well, I bought a property. At least four others made perfect investment sense -- but I focused on the RISK . . . the potential of overexposing myself to debt. Guess what! All these investment properties have increased at least 20% to 25% in value in the past 24 months. Of course, hindsight is easy. I could have bought them all and what equity I would have today! But I got my just desserts -- NOTHING -- because I risked nothing.

Life has value because it is perishable. The same applies to risk. The value of your decision is proportionate to the level of the risk. If, in your life choices, there is NO POTENTIAL loss or injury, you have not taken a risk. If your life (outside of the mundane) has no risk, you are not living your life at 100%. This position is COSTING YOU in your life -- how much, only you can decide!

One of my family members has been miserable in his job. He has great talents and options but will not take the risk to change. Not making a decision to risk has drained his energy, his motivation -- and has cost him dearly. But the really sad part of this situation is that he has been playing it safe for over 20 years -- yes, 20 years of dissatisfaction, not risking, and slowly dying from the lack of risk in his life.

Yes, I mean dying, literally.

Why? Risk affects your body biophysically. It generates endorphins in your bloodstream, which enhances your immune system and your overall health. The lack of risk in your life might be slowly killing you.

Right now, think of the scariest or riskiest thing that has ever happened to you. Can you recall your whole body vibrating? Remember the energy that came from that event? Was it invigorating? Every cell in your body was fully alive because you were in a risky situation.

What if everyone chose to live his or her life fully engaged? Could we create better communities and impact our world in a more positive way? Of course, we could!

But there is one small caveat. For some, risk in itself has become the objective, not the outcome. A percentage of the population, albeit small, is addicted to risk and the high it gives them. They are no longer in control. Their decisions are made based on the risk factor, not the outcome factor. In this case, risk is being used for the wrong purposes and can become detrimental to the individual.

Only you can know if that is true for you. If it is, only 100% commitment to the recovery process will lead to successfully taming this addiction to risk. Some people reading this article have no interest in addressing their condition, but the great thing is that we all have a choice.

True risk should and must have a purpose for you. True risk has a friend called rewards. Rewards are what you receive by successfully taking a risk. What rewards have you given up because you avoided risk? Lost jobs, investments, opportunities, relationships, impact, and success of any kind? The true risk-taker understands the balance between risks and rewards and focuses equally on both. He or she has the ability to balance emotions and analysis. Risk without personal or potential reward is called foolishness.

The rewards and benefits from taking a risk are not clear-cut and are extremely personal. Some individuals might call you a fool and feel your risk-taking has no apparent value or reward -- but that is not their decision to make. Only you can be in touch with your self and all the factors necessary to score the risk/reward scale.

Others might judge that what you did was not risky -- meaning they donít see your actions as a risk at all. Again, whose opinion needs to count here? Yours.

Finally, I want you to think back over the past 12 months. Did you have an intentional/proactive decision or choice -- a risk that just scared the . . . out of you? If you did, great! If not, itís time to start risking more.

One of the research items my company (CRG) undertook 25 years ago was how your biophysical makeup affects your risk-taking level. We determined that part of your risk-taking level is influenced by your RAS (Reticular Activating System). In simple terms, the nervous system at the base of your brain has wired you for your level of natural risk-taking tendencies.

CRG has established this tendency as your introversion and extroversion levels. This is not introversion/extroversion as defined by most others as people-related. CRGís definition establishes how willing you are to engage and interact with the environment which, by the way, contains risks. If you are interested in benchmarking your inherent risk-taking levels, we have a couple of assessment choices that will help you in this journey.

Understanding yourself in this area will assist you to be proactive and in control of your risk-taking process.
ē If you are in business the Entrepreneurial Style and Success Indicator will apply.
ē If you are in sales, the Sales Style Indicator will be helpful.
ē If you are in Education or training, the Instructional Style Indicator will assist you.
ē If you want general feedback, then complete the Personal Style Indicator.

I found each of these very helpful in my development journey.

Remember: life without any risk is a boring and mediocre adventure.

This Week's Action Steps

Risking to Live

1. Risk is defined as the exposure to possible loss or injury.
2. What has not taking risks cost you? Take a moment to review the past couple of years; list all the risks you avoided or did not take that now -- looking back -- cost you.
3. From those risk-avoidance experiences, list your actual losses for not taking those risks -- in money, personal fulfillment, relationships, and success.
4. Envision your life RIGHT now if you had taken every one of those risks and if the outcome was successful. Mentally and emotionally, enjoy the feelings of your rewards or success. Do you feel different about your life?
5. To fully understand your risks/rewards decision-making process, go back and reflect on why you did or did not avoid certain risks. In my situation with my real estate, I only envisioned the property staying the same or going down in price. I was only looking at the risks column, not balancing it equally with the rewards column.
6. Based on this review, what did you find? Are you embracing risks and rewards equally or are you biasing the process?
7. Establish your inherent risk-taking levels with one or more of the CRG assessments: Entrepreneurial Style and Success Indicator, Sales Style Indicator, Personal Style Indicator, or Instructional Style Indicator.
8. What can you do to improve your ability to take more risks?
9. Link up with a mentor who has experience and success in the area in which you are about to take a risk. He or she can help you better understand the benefits and the rewards. Warning: donít look for support from someone who has not been successful taking your specific risks. He or she may not have the biophysical signature or mental experience to help you cross the risk/reward barrier.
10. If you are beating yourself up for past risk-avoidance decisions -- stop that right now. Unless you are into time travel, there is no benefit to it. Learn from your past and move on.
11. Finally, here is a challenge. In the next three to six months -- sooner if possible -- I want to encourage everyone reading this article to pull out The Big One (or two) . . . yes, the couple of risks or decisions you have avoided. The ones that scare the wits out of you. Take the process and own it. I want you to cross the line and take the risk. If your new-found analysis says the risk does not justify the reward, then ditch it, but replace it with a risk that that does.
12. When you do this, pay attention to how alive you feel at that moment.

Until next time, keep "Living On Purpose",

Ken Keis

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Ken Keis is an internationally known author, speaker, consultant, & President of CRG. Many professionals herald CRG as the # 1 global resource center for Personal/Professional Development. For information on CRG Resources, please visit

For information on Kenís Training and Speaking Programs, please visit

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