Entrepreneurship is very often linked to the risk taker. Starting and running your own business often requires you to take a risk or two. Being a naturally risk averse person may seem like you could never flourish as a business person or manager. Wrong. I’ll show you why.

I was brought up by parents who didn’t really trust business people or believe that you could earn an honest living running a business. I don’t altogether blame them for their worldview. Most of the business people they knew or had had dealings with were ruthless and corrupt. Anyway, coupled with my naturally cautious personality, I thought running a business would never be my thing. There were very few risks I was prepared to take. Or so I thought.

The truth is that if you want something badly enough, you’ll do whatever it takes to get that thing and that includes taking some risks you never thought you would be capable of taking. The keywords here are ‘badly enough’. And while you may not be prepared to take the same risks as the Type A personality next door, you will take the ones that count.

After more than twenty years of a very successful career in Medicine, I decided to leave my lucrative partnership where I was Lead Partner and train to be an Executive Coach. What made me leave a well-paid job for a future that was as uncertain as they come? It was fairly simple. I wanted to explore a different way of living – and working. I wanted to do something that not only helped people’s physical bodies, but also enabled them to fulfil all the great potential that they had in them. I wanted this badly enough to risk what I had known and been successful at for so long, in search of what my heart was calling for. Now remember I am a naturally cautious person.

We don’t place as much stock on motivation as I think we ought to. If one is motivated enough, they will do anything. Well almost anything. Whether the motivation is towards a dream or desire (the carrot) or away from a consequence (the stick) is not as important as the question – is that thing strong enough to move you to action? Risk taking is not just inborn. It can be learned behaviour as well. And if you have done it once, you can do it again. Neuroscience supports this theory.

It is a bit like being afraid of heights and then a dear friend gives you an expensive birthday gift – a voucher for a bungee jump or sky dive (what kind of a friend is that I wonder?). You value your friendship so much that against all good judgement, you decide to take the jump. You are almost paralysed by the fear, but never the less, you do it afraid. Something literally changes in your brain after you jump (if you survive the jump, that is). Suddenly you feel like you can take on anything. So the next time the opportunity arises to take another risk, you do it with less prevarication – and a little less fear.

Running your own business or starting any new venture will require you to leave your comfort zone more times than you would ideally like, but you can do it even if you are not a natural risk taker. And by the way, its not just starting or running a business that requires taking a risk or two. Taking up new hobbies, starting a new relationship, even travelling to a foreign country (more risky now than ever before) are all risks you may not be prepared to take. Find the motivation for what you need to do. Ask yourself the big ‘Why?’ And if your why is big enough, then you will jump. Every time. And if you don’t want to jump, then perhaps your why is not big enough. And you are better off not jumping.

To your success,
Oge