Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Real Test: How Do You Deal With Risks?

How do you handle a situation you've not dealt with before? How do you respond to a situation you're uncomfortable with? Do you panic when you're in a sudden and seemingly unnerving situation?

I'm essentially talking about risk and our ability to take risks. 

I feel the real test of a person is how he/she deals with such random, sudden and unexpected situations.

We often encounter such situations in our lives. And many times the first reaction is panic - which is quite understandable. It is a fight or flight response, which our cave-dwelling ancestors were compelled to take. And this is thousands of years of programming hardwired in our system which is difficult to get rid of.

So what is risk taking? It's about getting involved in something with an undefined/ unexpected outcome. And the risk taking ability is how well one deals with such an event/ activity with an undefined/ unexpected outcome.

The good news is that we can nurture this risk taking ability - with lot of practice, patience and good presence of mind. Expect that there will always be uncertainties, and be prepared for it. Be confident. Have a presence of mind to deal with them. Keep practicing. Gradually, we will get better at it.

Start taking intelligent risks. Not like jumping out of your building or like moonwalking near a cobra, or standing in front of an approaching truck. Not life threatening risks. That would be dumb. I'm not talking about them.

More like, starting to experiment with things/ situations. Say you feel uncomfortable dealing with an unknown group of people. As a first step, you can just start mixing with some newer faces, one at a time. And then gradually mixing with a group of unknown people.

Maybe you think that investing in stock market is risky. So to build up your confidence, read more about investing, start investing small amounts and gradually increase the sum. You'll notice that the more you're exposed to it, the better you can deal with it.

It could be as simple as taking a detour from your regular route to explore newer routes. Things like these. You can start by taking risks in areas you're familiar with.

There are people we know of having this remarkable ability to aptly deal with such situations. We admire them for having a good presence of mind. I'm sure you can instantly recall many in your personal and professional network. You should also speak to them about how they have developed this ability.

Taking risks exposes us to environments/ situations we have not come across before. We learn. We grow. We become better. Challenge yourself to take newer risks to become better.

Go ahead and take a new risk, today! You'll be thrilled! Promise. 

How do you respond when you face an unexpected situation presents itself? What are some ways you've used that helped you master it? Do share your experiences and techniques in the comments below.

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