There are people too cautious looking doubtful in every nook and corner of life. If you think ten times before you take a step what is there wrong, you might ask. The point is if we are in the nature of constantly anticipating problems we never take bold decisions. It was Richard Branson who wrote in his book ‘lessons of Life’, “If you opt for a safe life, you will never know what it’s like to win”. So we need to embolden ourselves so that we become capable of taking reasonable risks in life without hesitation. Some people say risk taking capacity and the mettle therefore is an inborn capacity. I have an example of a ten year boy in good old days who climbed the arches of a huge bridge when the family was sitting nearby. The boy  in an intuition, climbed half way and his father decided not to alert or frighten him. He quietly climbed that 30 feet and climbed down safely. In the good old story of Dick Whittington who became the Mayor of London, he was a poor orphan boy, a non entity languishing in an unknown village. One fine morning he decides to alter his fortune by pursuing a dream .Enticed by the stories people told about London that its streets were paved with gold he sets off to seek his fortune. But he soon found himself helpless, shivering with cold and hunger. He fell asleep at the gate of the mansion that belonged to a wealthy merchant navigator who gives him shelter. The story goes that with a penny he got for polishing shoes, he buys a cat. The merchant carries his cat with his merchandise to some far off country infested with rats. The cat fetches good money and the boy later rises to the pinnacle of glory is the story. So unless we take some risks we may have to continue with our dull and drab existence.

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. “Says Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are all born with a lot of talents and we have capabilities for doing much better things than what we are doing right now. This thought can work wonders. We have the stuff in us to win the most gruesome battles but the inhibitions in our mind hold us back from achieving, we always want to play safe. We even tend to forget how well we did in the past becoming oblivious about our own strengths. Always remember that good old lady Helen Keller who said “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

Face that risk scenario

Any time you face a risk scenario or some challenging situation, remember all these are a part of life. Let these be daunting and demanding, we are not to lose heart. There is no reward in life for those who are averse to risks. The stakes may appear to be a bit high some times since we tend to be in a comfort zone most of the time and would like to take a comfortable course of life and take convenient steps that appear safe and secure for the present and for the future. If we have to achieve something there is an element of risk to face most often. You can’t sit there and wriggle your fingers all the time. You can’t have all possibilities rounded up. Something could always go wrong. There is no cent percent security anywhere. You’re dithering, anxiety, fear and hesitation is just something to push you into the ditch of failure.

If you examine the human history and civilization we can see man has come to this present level of progress only because there were people out there who were prepared to take risks and pay the price. If we insist that everything should come on a platter before me without being exposed to any kind of risks, it simply doesn’t happen.

Taking a bold step forward anticipating reasonable risk is the hallmark of a man with self confidence. It is a coveted and valuable quality in human being. “It is no secret that the greatest treasures are found in the most remote, inaccessible and difficult places where we must pursue them with great energy and even greater risk. It’s the same with our lives” says Craig D. Lounsbrough.

Risk taker’s breed

Some people are always by nature, attuned to taking risks. For example the Norwegian Vikings and

Guajaratis went out on primitive ships with sails and masts to countries all around the world with a spirit of adventure. The risks were too many. In some families we see a tradition of people taking up flying in defense sector as a career. They are not in the least averse to taking up risks. In our normal life also we may have to encounter risks too often. A farmer takes a number of risks in trying out a new crop. He may face calamities; he may not fetch a proper price etc. A businessman may face risks in stocking a commodity; an industrialist may run a risk in hiring unproductive labor. A student may run a risk in choosing a particular stream; a driver takes risks on a daily basis .So risks are there for all of us in every nook and corner.

Theories relating risk taking

Mental processes, education, intelligence level, genetic influence, cultural background, experience etc are factors that influence behavior leading to informed and effective risk taking decisions.

Psychologists have researched on a large group of persons by asking appropriate questions to find an individual’s risk taking capacity i.e. how much they are inclined to accept risky situations whether they are willing or would like to avoid taking risks. Are they in a position to assess the risk elements with a balanced mind and what are their perceptions about a risky situation?

Risk taking can be defined as capacity for undertaking a challenging or difficult task. We have to take some steps for in order to obtain a benefit, or for reaching a goal. The element of uncertainty and the likely dangers involved can be threatening. The general attitude of the person, peer influence, clear cut understanding of the situational factors, a balanced judgment etc enable a person to take risks.

According to widely accepted interpretations, risk attitudes are often considered to be a personality or genetic trait. Some people are out there to create sensations whether it is on a playground or in films. Sensation seeking, according to Zukerman is specifically defined as “the need for varied, novel, and complex sensations and experiences and the willingness to take physical and social risks for the sake of such experiences”

Despite all this many people over a period evolve their own strength to take up risk. So one must understand that this kind of risk taking capacity can be evolved, nurtured and cultivated.

Thus those who are deemed generally risk aversive may still surprise us and engage in behavior categorized as risky and outwit others.

The concept of risk taking capacity has witnessed a dynamic change over the years similar to the overall attitude or personality traits.  The thought that these characteristics were always deemed to be rigid, brought about by childhood traits or genetic heritage etc has undergone changes. There is another theory that in a man his Testosterone levels play a major role in risk-taking during financial decisions. One would be able to quote umpteen examples of those who excelled and wiped out this opinion. There are situational determinants, improved awareness experience etc shedding light on the actual flexibility of these traits.

Be Ready

“People who swim very well in troubled waters are respected and celebrated than those who swim excellently in calm waters” Says Israelmore Ayivor. As you transform yourself into a person with a great risk taking capacity please note the following:

  • Take the bull by horns. The risk you encounter should be taken as a golden opportunity to prove your mettle, a not too often chance to put to test your abilities, capabilities and potentials.
  • Unleash your power. You will feel more confident about your own capabilities and make you feel good about what you achieve in life. Let the whole world come to know of this.
  • As you become increasing competent to handle risks you will come up with bright ideas and innovations and more and more followers will line up behind you.
  • New star filled horizons will break open before your eyes. Your passion to excel will grow.

Train the younger

We must make it a point to inculcate this attitude of risk taking in our younger generation. Otherwise if you say that ‘you need not do that I will do that for you’, they will grow timid and you can see even fifty year olds who can’t pedal a bicycle. Parents should in a phased manner expose their kids to risk taking such as climbing trees, crossing roads etc.

Debbie Ford,  an internationally recognized expert in the field of personal Development and Modern psychology  gives us a beautiful advice in her book titled ‘The Best Year of Your Life: Dream It, Plan It, Live It’:  “To live a life of excellence, you will have to take risks. You will have to step into new territory and climb new mountains. If you’re up to something that’s as big as you are, it’s going to be scary. If it feels perfectly safe, you are probably underachieving. To leave your mark in the world, you will have to stand someplace you’ve never been willing to stand before. And you will have to have the courage to aspire to excellence.”

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Jose VazhuthanapillyBSc., LLB, DBM, CAIIB Retired in 2008 as AGM from State Bank of India. He had worked as a visiting faculty in the Bank’s Staff Training Centers for 5 years. He is a writer with 22 books to his credit including books on self-help/ psychology. He resides in Ernakulam, Kochi. He is active also in social service. He can be contacted at


  • Prasangakarkkulla Kadhakal (St. Paul’s Books, Ernakulam)
  • EQ – Vyakti Jeevitham Mikavuttathakkam (Sophia Books, Calicut)
  • Atma Viswasathinte Karuthu Nedam (Sophia Books, Calicut)
  • Mano Sankharshangale Keezhadakkan Chila Prayogika Margangal (Media House, Calicut)
  • Vijayam Ningalude Ullil Thanneyanu (Vimala Books)
  • Fulton Sheeninte Jeevitham (Carmel International Publishing House)
  • Matti Varakkam Jeevitham ( Jeevan Books)
  • Vivaham Kootti Vilakkam (Media House)
Titles in English
  • Torrential Bliss-Practical Wisdom for Happy Living-Kindle Books.
  • (Articles originally published in Daily Brunch)
  • Know your e-kid-A parenting Guide-Kindle Books
  • (Articles originally published in Daily Brunch)
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