Do you make your decisions based on fear or the future?

 “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”

John Wooden

Do you choose to live a life based on risk minimization or risk management?

While initially there might not appear to be a lot of difference in these perspectives I firmly believe they are opposite sides of a continuum.

Risk minimization is a decision framework based on fear, avoiding something potentially harmful or damaging. Risk management is a decision path that is future focused, where you are intentionally seeking a path forward with the cognitive understanding that something might not happen as you exactly expect. Yet you know you will be equipped to deal with whatever happens because you are willing to think about it now and you aren’t willing to let it stop you or slow you down.

Risk Minimization: A fear-based approach to decision making and action that seeks to minimize any and all risks. The fear of mistakes, and the consequences of those mistakes, will be a driver of your actions, or a lack of action. A risk minimization attitude says “what are all the things that could possibly go wrong, and how do I avoid them?”

Risk Management: A future-based approach to life and decision making that prioritizes action and doing. You choose to make decisions with a clear understanding that not everything will go according to plan. However, with sufficient planning and an appetite for healthy risk, obstacles can and will be overcome. A risk management thinking style says, “what is the worst possible outcome of this decision or action, and how do I prepare for it?”

If you want to live life as a doer, a person that takes action and gets things done, then you must embrace a future-based approach to decision making and action. Risks simply need to be understood and managed, not avoided. Mistakes will happen and should happen. Not everything will go according to plan.

A mistake is nothing more than an opportunity to make a different decision based on better information than you had when you made your last decision. If you aren’t making mistakes then you aren’t trying hard enough and you aren’t creating opportunities for learning and growth. After all, what is the worst that can happen?

Lay the foundation well…

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

Walt Disney

All the goals, resolutions, objectives and aspirations in the world don’t mean a thing if you don’t execute against them. But execution alone isn’t enough. You have to have very specific and measurable actions and outcomes that show whether or not you are making progress towards those goals.

Saying “I want to lose weight” isn’t good enough. Nor is “I want to weigh ABC pounds.” Those are nice, but you have to have a plan. You have to break those goals into smaller objectives that are specific and measurable. Then you have to do them and hold yourself accountable for getting it done.

None of this is rocket science, I am sure it is all stuff that you have read before. But then why do so many people fail to accomplish their goals? Why do so many people (including myself) come off the rails and fall short of their goals?

I believe the answer is simple. We (most especially me) get focused on the over the horizon goal and lose sight of the shorter term, here and now “next step” goals and the results that come from achieving these objectives.

Think of it this way. If you want to build a house you have to have a vision, and then create a plan. Then you must get architectural drawings to ensure that you have specific work steps detailed and outlined. But at some point it comes down to getting started and doing the hard work that no one will ever see. Digging the foundation and laying the bricks that they entire home will be built upon. If you take any shortcuts there and don’t do your best work the house will never last and it will never live up to the vision you created in your mind.

Today is the day where you must start working to achieve your goals by breaking the work into measurable components and then as Walt Disney said, “quit talking and begin doing.”

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