I just got back from Peoria, AZ, where I gave a speech about risk from the perspective of a former professional gambler. The takeaways are:
Enjoy, and let me know if you'd like to hire me to speak at your sweet event:
A couple people recently have asked about the risks I take. On one hand, as they point out, I play it extremely safe by eating healthy foods and abstaining from alcohol and drugs. On the other hand, I climb construction cranes and go skydiving. Isn't this a contradiction?
It isn't - at least in my "eccentric" way of thinking. The difference is that one type of risk is an incidental risk, and the other is a sustained risk. I'm not really concerned with how dangerous a particular activity is. I know that jumping onto a moving freight train is more dangerous than eating a cookie. I'm worried on the "expected value" of the event. In other words, the average harm per hour times the amount of hours I'll be doing the activity.
If I climb a radio tower, there's a very small chance that I'll kill myself doing so. I don't mind taking that risk, though, because I'm only going to spend a total of ten hours or so doing it in my entire life. The odds probably won't catch up with me.
Originally Posted: Sunday, March 14, 2010
I think we can all agree, life is difficult right now for many people, and we should all cherish what we have. However, happiness must come above money, and this is really hard to see sometimes. Right now, this may be a huge risk; to change jobs in the middle of a recession can be seen as lunatic and a self imposed death sentence. But what if you are miserable in your current job? What if you are making those around you miserable? Are you expected to stay in your current job until something equal or better comes along, or is it okay to take the risk and make a major change?
This really got me thinking today, because I think happiness is important above all else. A risk is involved that brings up questions of money, security, housing, and family. However, if man never took risks, where would we be today? I probably wouldn't be able to type this, or submit it over an avenue that has the potential to reach everyone in the world. We couldn't fly to anywhere in the world. Hell, we wouldn't be able to drive anywhere either! We must all take risks to move forward. As Frederick B. Wilcox put it, "Progress involves risk. You can't steal second base with your foot on first."
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw of the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain has it right, but we can even be disappointed with our lack of risk-taking a year, or months, or even days later! Be aware of the progressive risks you can take, and jump.