The Risks Worth Taking


Christina Brady, Staff Writer

We as people too often have ideas and never make any mark of them, we too often underestimate our own possibility. Maybe it is that we’re afraid, or maybe it is that our lack of motivation as an already civilized species works as an offender. Either way, we rarely find inspiration in our silver pattered monotony. It doesn’t help that we don’t want to do anything alone, we resist change as if opportunity binds us down. We avoid hope in its coming. Now, some of us might combat this urge of a mob’s mentality or a group’s think, some may swim against the current of a sluggish life. Left to our own devices we may live out our dreams in hopes to change the world, we’re permitted to… even called to, but is it worth it?


        There often is a restriction to humanity’s thought processes where we doubt what truly can be. We’ve established this. It’s not uncommon to hear someone saying what they truly want and by all means, can and should do with the preceding or postponing notion that it’s ”too risky”. It’s easy to empathize with this claim since we all do hold ourselves back from time to time. But it turns out, we may just be more likely to hit it off on the right foot then we think. And even if we don’t, if we hit it off with the left, the next step taken is with the right foot anyway. And the symbolic “left foot” isn’t the “wrong foot” anyway, it’s all subjective. Direction is a man-made construct, not an absolute truth. When facing a mirror, or out in front looking back, each side becomes the other. This is called the reflexive property in mathematics. But in its simplest terms, and not to bore anybody to sleep just yet, it’s just a reflection: it’s an altered perception, not a right nor wrong. Propose a thought, you come up with this crazy idea, this next big thing. Or… to be a bit more humble and maybe realistic, you just want to start a small family business to save your kids some money for college. But then again… wait. Your second thought, I can’t take that risk myself, maybe so and so could do it. But I’m not cut out for entrepreneurship. I couldn’t even pay my own taxes.


        Well, this hypothetical version of yourself (and of course myself) should take into consideration that in a study of 271 entrepreneurs from a variety of age groups results found that “…between a successful start-up (regardless of the firm’s performance after the start-up) (N = 174, 64%) and an abandonment of the start-up effort (regardless of whether or not the nascent entrepreneur succeeds in setting up another business) (N = 97, 36%) (van Gelderen, Thurik, Bosma)”. This, in English as opposed to fragments of data speech, means out of these first-timers the majority got off on the right foot immediately. The minority were unsuccessful. Although, even in those that threw in the towel, this may just be postponing their success to a second chance. Of course, that is, presuming they take the leap again. This is where we all remember the inspirational proverb (or the few) that we keep in the forefront of our mind, either that or we start praying to God, “What does this lesson mean?? I can’t take it anymore, just tell me what I should do already!”


        We so often fail some sort of test in life and assume that defines failure as destiny. But with that said, how often is it that we doubt our own self-doubt? The lengths that we’re willing to go through to avoid challenge and disappointment undeniably will hinder our outcomes. Listening to the devil on our shoulder, we might as well be placing hurdles right in front of our feet and not even trying to jump. I couldn’t tell you how many times I myself hadn’t attempted to join some group despite a common interest or take higher-level classes assuming incompetence in the subject and material. The reasoning? It was always either some quantifiable test score, what someone had said to me at one point, or something I had said to myself. It never had anything to do with legitimate knowledge or understanding. It may sound familiar, this would even appear in disguise as, but you’re already so overwhelmed as is, you don’t want to set yourself up for failure. An application at one point in time doesn’t determine an entire entity or future. Now if one of those newfangled big ideas one of us came up with when we all became entrepreneurs was a time machine, I’d go back to the summer around 8th grade, slam a book down in front of my face and yell, “Hey you, head in the deep dark clouds of the underworld! Read this! Listen to the elder you… listen to yourself!”. It’s also likely that many a some of us hadn’t auditioned, hadn’t tried out, hadn’t even let ourselves plan on doing something that was “out of our reach”. As if there’s a limit to the abstract… it’s the abstract people! The only limit it has is the truth and too many don’t even abide by that. I mean you could also argue that we can only ponder up so much thought, but no one can counter that because we can’t even think of it. 


        And again, back to the point, this is why we’re all out of our minds: In another data analysis among students, “the model successfully classified 90% of the cases in the lowest quintile of discriminant scores (Powell, Conway, Ross).” Although this part of the study was marked off as inconclusive, and the semantics of the word “success” will always remain subjective, it’s still interesting how determined this seems. Even as the article seems to favor those least likely to quantifiably exceed expectations, they indeed are more likely to prevail in this same, specific area of quantity: it’s just an after taste, the rainbow after the rain. The argument instituted a framework that these who were more likely to underrate their success were less likely to overestimate themselves. And, as was found, this underrated aspect is slightly more remarkably true in females. Possibly to be that our society expects us to be a little less action-oriented, but at least it pays off.


        It’s very important to keep a realistic outlook; if we are to overestimate ourselves, we are less likely to succeed in more likely to opt-out. But if we are to underestimate ourselves beyond the little a need of doubt, we may just do the same. This may seem like a double standard, but life doesn’t do that, it’s really just a thin line of balance. We may be tight rope walking, but there is a way across. In the same pool of statistics previously mentioned,  “about 40% of students successfully complete their first course. The mean pass mark is 81%. In addition, few students (3%) actually fail their first course (Powell, Conway, Ross)”. Which leads to the question, what does this mean? To make an inference, it means that many of us are quitting our goals when there’s really no need to. Most of our anxieties are just a lash back of pity from the enemy in ourselves.


        Just a tinge of that apprehension, however, gets the adrenaline pumping and acts as a major motivator. It helps us stay hard enough on ourselves to stay on target with or even surpass our goals. To stick with the same secondly cited study for consistency sake, “students who rated the consequences of not passing as serious were more likely to pass their first course (Powell, Conway, Ross).” Again, making some inferences here, if we do that thing that scares the living daylights out of us and haunts us in our dreams, maybe we won’t back out next time, or even this one!


        Maybe someday the world will change. I think there’s hope that we won’t have to judge ourselves so harshly, that we can just take it all in and act as heroes to ourselves and even to others. But first, it seems, everything would have to crumble to dust. It would take a near apocalypse for us to risk it all, we shouldn’t have to be willing to do anything to survive, to have nothing to risk anymore, just to take some chances. I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. Be your own hero, do the right thing. Take the right chances (or whatever direction fate decides)… just take them wisely, proceed with caution.


Works Cited

Marco van Gelderen, Roy Thurik, Niels Bosma. (2005), ‘Success and Risk Factors in the Pre-Startup Phase’, Small Business Economics (Springer 2005), pg. 374

Richard Powell, Christopher Conway, Lynda Ross. (1990) ‘Effects of Student Predisposing Characteristics on Student Success’, (VOL. 5), pg. 5-19