Real risk or ego risk?

By Minda Zetlin via  Article

“Are you frightened of taking a risk? If so, ask yourself a question. Are you scared because it could have real, dire consequences? Or could it just have dire consequences for your ego?

A few weeks ago, I took part in a podcast about risk and what stops us from taking the chances that could propel us to a higher level of success. It suddenly struck me that–although we often confuse them–there are two very distinct forms of risk. And though we may be equally afraid of both, they deserve very different levels of respect.

The first is when we take a chance on something that could really harm us, either physically or materially. Athletes and explorers take physical risks routinely, and so do the rest of us when we, say, go scuba diving or go out driving in a snowstorm to an appointment or event we just don’t want to miss. We may also take material risks, for instance when we quit a job to start a business or take out a mortgage. We take the risk in pursuit of something we consider important, but we’re also aware that things can go horribly wrong and we could wind up much worse off than we were before.

But then there’s ego risk, the kind of risk where the only harm we might suffer is to our pride, our public image, and our self-esteem. Much too often, we treat this kind of risk as though it were equal to real physical or material risk.

This is why in surveys people routinely rank fear of public speaking above fear of death. It’s nonsensical of course. I’m fairly sure that if you stood most people at a podium, pointed a gun at their head and told them to give a speech or die, they’d start speaking in a hurry. Stack up ego risk against real risk and ego risk will crumble every time.”



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