A ‘Normal’ Risk Aversion
Do you consider yourself risk averse?
I’m not talking about the stereotypical risks I’ve been going on about quite a lot recently. I’m not talking about skydiving, and I’m not talking about running through the streets of Pamplona dodging bulls as they charge past you.
Today, I’m asking you if you’re prone to avoid taking risks in your daily life.
Would you feel uncomfortable asking for a raise?
Do you actively try to avoid confrontation, even when it may be necessary to insure you’re not walked all over by others in your life?
Do you often avoid bringing up topics because you don’t feel it’s your place to mention them, even if you see a problem that could use fixing?
If Yes, What Does It Mean?
These feelings are normal. They’re human. You…. Are human.
A yes to some of the above questions means that you have a normal level or risk avoidance.
Having a ‘normal’ level of risk aversion isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It will (in the off chance that a risk is actually as dangerous as you think it is) keep you out of trouble. The problem, however, is that this can also hold you back. It holds some people back their entire lives.
I believe that there is a reason some of us, (me included!) find it difficult to ask for a raise, let others know when they are bothering us, or stand out to try to fix problems we see, but aren’t directly ours to fix.
I believe that reason is fear.
Fear Of What?
It’s not fear of any external danger. I think most people are aware that they won’t get fired for asking for a justified raise. Most of us know that being honest with a friend can strengthen a relationship. Most of us know that, even if a problem isn’t ours to solve, bringing it up will at worst lead to a neutral ‘Thanks for the input.’
What we’re really afraid of is an internal pain. We’re afraid of being told ‘No, you’re wrong.’ We’re afraid of this because to someone who hasn’t heard a lot of no’s, no hurts!
If your boss tells you that he doesn’t want to give you a raise, you know you’ll feel deflated for the rest of the day (year?). If you’re told that the problem isn’t worth solving (or that YOU aren’t qualified to solve it), it will hurt knowing that your input didn’t add any value.
If you never take any risks, you’ll never get any no’s. Because hearing a ‘no’ hurts, a great deal of people choose to avoid this emotional cost and simply take as few of these ‘daily risks’ as possible.
Yes, getting a ‘no’ isn’t fun. And yes, taking risks like asking for a raise can get a big fat ‘no’ jammed right into your face. But, if you let this fear of ‘no’ keep you from taking risks you’ll never get the benefits that are the prize of every daily-life risk taker.
You will never get a raise unless you ask for one. You will never fix your stressed relationship with a friend if you don’t let him know what’s bothering you. You will never be seen as a innovative member of your organization unless you propose new ideas to solve real problems. These are the external benefits reserved for risk takers.
Perhaps more importantly, if you refuse to take risks you will give up many opportunities to grow as an individual. Standing up for yourself and flying your true colors builds confidence. Speaking your mind and explaining your true feelings builds your character and also your internal respect for yourself.
Perhaps taking these risks in your daily life is more important than jumping out of airplanes or running with dangerous wild animals.
Gaining the confidence to ask for compensation you believe you deserve not only takes confidence, but builds it as well.
Don’t let the fear of ‘no’ keep you from taking risks that hold potential for you.
Every time I give in to this fear, I regret it. Every time I take a daily-life risk such as the ones I described (even when it doesn’t go as I planned) I’m glad. I know that I have at least laid my thoughts out on the table and have been honest with everyone who is part of the situation.
Do you have some area of your life where you’re giving in to the fear of ‘no’?
Let me know in the comments below. Has the fear of ‘no’ kept you from taking any risks that could improve your life or your relationships?