Inherent in every conversation I’ve every had about change – aging, career shifts, marriage, parenting, promotions – is a greater or lesser concern over the risks that come with something new. Ah, FUD. It’s not that we don’t want to change and grow, just that it comes with so much fear, uncertainty and doubt.
Since “Buck up Little Camper, It will work itself out!” seems trite, I thought I’d share this instead. I came across this great list originally from RiskMetrics Group, and thought, “Isn’t this of interest for all considerations of risk?” (Obviously, my answer was yes.)
- There is no return without risk. Rewards go to those who take risks.
- Be transparent. Risk should be fully understood.
- Seek experience. Risk is measured and managed by people, not mathematical models.
- Know what you donâ€™t know. Question the assumptions you make.
- Communicate. Risk should be discussed openly.
- Diversify. Multiple risks will produce more consistent rewards.
- Show discipline. A consistent and rigorous approach will beat a constantly changing strategy.
- Use common sense. It is better to be approximately right, than to be precisely wrong.
- Return is only half the equation. Decisions should be made only by considering the risk and return of possibilities.
While this was intended for a professional audience that dwells on statistical probabilities and financial exposures, I wondered how one might this guidance to the risks we take in our professional careers? As much as I love the note from the boss, I think this might be an equally useful list to give out to new hires.
Imagine – (go on!) –
- Telling that all-knowing, idealistic 24-year old that they really don’t have to know everything today. That they can ask questions, be up front about what they don’t know. How much faster would their ascent be if they could feel comfortable asking obvious questions?
- What if it was explained that expertise and diversity BOTH were important aspects of a professional toolkit? That your company valued the discipline to learn over the narrowly pertinent content that they are being held accountable for today (and maybe one-day only).
- What if this permission was granted someone that had been in their job for 10 years? What if we asked them to commit to the cause again, taking on new risks and potential rewards?
This is a really good list. And I’m not just saying that because I agree with the premise.
Okay, maybe I am.
I think the “Know what you don’t know” is both the most difficult–from both a personal and professional perspective–and the one that offers the most potential for reward.
That’s my favorite. By far.
But I think it goes hand-in-hand with “Be transparent.” And “Seek experience.”
Put them all in a blender and it’s “admitting your ignorance is the first step to resolving your ignorance–and mitigating your risk.”