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When People Stop Getting Better

One way to break down a lifetime would be to think of it as two portions-- the part where the person became better, and the part where he coasted. 

In a normal person's life, the getting better part would include everything from his first breath of air, as he learned how to see and feel and breathe, through school as he learned different things, and probably through the beginning part of his job as he developed a baseline proficiency in his trade. The coasting part would be most of his career, as he put his educational investment to work, and, of course, retirement. 

There are a lot of ways to get better. You can learn new things. You can travel and see the world, thus gaining new perspective. You can build your personality. You can create a body of meaningful work. You can become more healthy and more fit. You can actively cultivate relationships with people.

Why Crazy Stuff Happens on the Island: Risk Profiles

I really enjoy talking about risk, but it's always better to talk about concrete examples rather than theories. My recent post about the disasters encountered on our island trip got a lot of people riled up about the risks I was taking, so I figured I'd use that as an opportunity to talk about risk, why I take the risks I take, and how risky they actually are.

Before I get into that, it's worth saying that I'm human and I make mistakes. I expect that I will always be human, and thus prone to mistakes, so the best I can do is learn from them. Having someone fall asleep at the wheel and allowing our boat to be untied in a current without the motor starting were both mistakes that should have been avoided.

That said, I have a much different risk profile than most people. I'll explain this in detail in a second, but something to consider is that while the principles that go into my assessment of risk may be universal, the resulting profile is not. In other words, just because I think a risk is worth taking doesn't mean that it's worth it for you, too. We all have different values and priorities.

One of the fundamental pillars of my relationship with risk is that I'm completely willing to take bad outcomes. Really bad outcomes, in some cases. By widening the range of bad things I'm willing to accept, I give myself more upside. Obviously these choices must be considered individually, not just accepted with an attitude of "take every risk!"

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