How to Make Risk Taking Less Risky

I woke up this morning to a few email questions from individuals seeking my perspective, advice, or suggestions. I usually answer questions with questions and when applicable reflect back what I see. Giving advice falls third on my response to email inquires.

One questioner explained their aversion to risk along with a lack luster performance in group meetings. They clam up.

Interestingly, they added a preference for one-on-ones.

They rightly see risk aversion as a road block to achieving big dreams.

My response:

Thanks for dropping a note. I love the self-awareness you possess. I think it enables you to see your best strengths and use them to pursue your best opportunities.

The first things that come to mind are questions about lowering what’s at stake?

  1. Is it possible to lower what’s at stake to the point where you can take small steps toward your big objective?
  2. Is it possible to avoid an all or nothing situation?
  3. Can you identify risk points where failure isn’t final? In other words, are there areas where recovery is easier?
  4. Can you make contingency plans if your preferred approach doesn’t work? Jim Collins on “if then” contingencies.

Regarding group meetings:

You might use your one-on-one skill to prepare individuals for meetings you lead. Basically, have a series of short one-on-one meetings with the same agenda you have for the group meeting. Schedule the group meeting after working through issues and building buy-in using one-on-ones. Leverage your strength.

Note: this post is based on, but does not completely reflect the email exchange that prompted it.

What insights or suggestions do you have for dealing with risk aversion?


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