Monday, June 4, 2012

Calculated Risks

Nico told Cindy something about a book that he is reading - but she hasn't. Paco told Nico to be careful about not ruining the book for her. Nico thought the details were minor so Cindy wouldn't mind. This made me think of mistakes that can be fixed vs. those that can't. If you tell someone too much about a book or movie, you might ruin it for them and there is nothing you can do about it. You can't take back what you said. Another, more serious, example would be if you physically harm someone in a car accident. The damage is done and there is no turning back (at least not until someone invents a time machine!). Contrast that with a mistake that can be fixed: you purchase shoes that are the wrong size? Exchange them. You break someone's else's toy? Buy him a new one. It might still be a hassle or a significant expense to fix these mistakes, but at least you can.

So what? If you are not sure something you are about to do is right, think about the consequences of being wrong. Be more careful in situations for which there will be no fix if you make a mistake. Another way of thinking about this is the concept of "calculated risks": I am in a hurry and can't find parking. If I am comfortable with the risk of getting a parking ticket I might just park illegally. But if I am not comfortable with the risk of hurting someone in a car accident I shouldn't speed or go through Red lights.

An example from sailing: If you are over the line early at the start of a race you can correct your mistake by going back and restarting. A costly mistake but not necessarily a "lethal" one. But if you have a collision with another sailboat, no matter how small, you will be disqualified from the race entirely if you could have avoided it.

1 comment:

Andrew Dumont said...

Along with this, I think the concept of budgeted risk is also important. Meaning, setting aside a timeframe after each risk you make to take another.

Without risk, we're bred to become complacent. By setting hard deadlines in your life that help you push the envelope, you're in a much greater place to succeed.

Great post, Ariel!