"Risk and reward is real."

One of the best people leaders I have ever met just got a promotion — into the C suite.



When I heard about this I just had to send a congratulatory note, and when I received a reply (in classic style) it said, "Risk and reward is real".  As I read the reply I could not help but smile and nod — it still resonates with me.

risk [risk] NOUN — a situation involving exposure to danger: VERB — expose (someone or something valued) to danger, harm, or loss:

re·ward [rəˈwôrd] NOUN — a thing given in recognition of one's service, effort, or achievement: VERB — make a gift of something to (someone) in recognition of their services, efforts, or achievements:

I am certain almost everyone has heard it said, in one iteration or another, that the greater the risk the greater the reward — and although it maybe trite, it's more often than not true. There is certainly a correlation that needs to be considered with everything that we do. 

As they say (and I'm not sure who they are) — "Life is a contact sport".

In other words, this wonderful life we have been given is dangerous — it challenges us, it wants to eat us, it wants to make us sick, it'll take what we have away from us if we aren't paying attention, and for every action we take there is a reaction that may or may not be in our best interest. Life and our actions (which includes non-action) inherently brings risk with it, as well as those associated rewards. Life is simply a series of risks and rewards for about seventy-five years (give or take), so we might as well get involved because staying under the covers really isn't an option.

With risk being an inherent part of life, it then becomes all about mitigating risk or taking on calculated risk — and whether we appreciate it or not, either through innate ability, training, or luck, we become experts when it comes to risk management. Our goal should then be about constantly developing our abilities in this regard, and getting the most out of the risk that comes our way.

It is all about understanding and aligning our abilities with our understanding of the situation — and having the confidence to believe we will be successful.

  • Know your abilities and continually strive to expand them — they are the tools that allow you to take on a situation (an intellectual endeavour)
  • Understand the situation you need to deal with and align your abilities with it — and then objectively determine if your abilities allow you to be successful dealing with the situation (an intellectual endeavour)
  • The confidence to be able to use your abilities and deal with the situation successfully — this is the innate understanding that you can overcome the risk of not being successful (more often than not an emotional endeavour)
  • The will power to overcome obstacles, make things happen, and not stop until you are successful (I'm not even sure how to categorize it)

And reward?

This of course can be anything, either intrinsic or extrinsic, and mostly reflects the goals of taking on the situation and risk in the first place. And yes, we naturally gravitate to money as the reward but it can be anything from simply learning a new skill to the satisfaction of doing something never done before. The subtlest reward though, and probably the most valuable, is the confidence that comes with taking on risk and succeeding... which in turn encourages you to take on new situations and more risk (and so on). Until one day you look back on it all and say to yourself, "Look at everything I've done and how far I've come"

Of course none of this happens if you find yourself still under the covers.