Unreasonable risk-takers are individuals who tend to overemphasize
the resources they have available or can acquire to accomplish their
objectives. Or, they're the type of people who underemphasize the
barriers that are likely to get in their way.
There's been a lot of emphasis in the past decade or so on
risk-taking as a positive trait of high-achieving individuals. Most
corporate environments don't encourage risk-taking. Neither do
government bureaucracies. So "unreasonable risk-taking" might not
seem like much of a problem, except that we're talking about
increasing power and influence with others. That demands that you
take risks, provide leadership, and create visions for others. So
risk-taking comes with the territory of adaptability.
This is just a note of caution to take reasonable risks.
Psychologist David McClelland and others who have researched high
achievers say the most successful individuals take moderate risks
which have a 30 percent to 70 percent chance of being accomplished.
Taking a risk on something that has less than a 30 percent chance of
success is considered reckless behavior rather than reasonable
risk-taking. This is especially true if you're risking the resources
of other people in the process.
Accomplishing something which has over 70 percent chance of success
is essentially not taking a risk in the first place. Assessing risk
involves both looking at what positive factors are in the plan, as
well as the negative factors that stand to get in the way. There's
usually no way to do an ironclad assessment of a plan. Oftentimes,
the factor that weights the balance in one direction or the other is
the person taking the risk. How much follow-through do you have? How
much energy are you going to bring to the enterprise? If the going
gets tough, can you count on yourself to keep going?
A great majority of businesses begun by individuals in this country
fail within the first 5 years. Starting a new business is always a
risk, but a good business plan upfront will help assess the chances
for success. According to Michael Gerber, who runs a nationwide
training company for fledgling entrepreneurs, the number one reason
for the failure of startup businesses is underestimation of the
resources it takes to keep a business going. Entrepreneurs
underestimate the capital required, the time it takes, and the
expertise it takes to run your own business. Yet every year,
hundreds of thousands of people hang out their sign, print their
business cards and wait for their first customer or client.
The good news is that tens of thousands of those businesses do
succeed. That's because they've taken a reasonable risk.