What is the post about: The mindset to have with regards to risk taking and innovation
Why it is important: Innovating implies risk. To make progress you need to take some risk
Who is it best suited for: Entrepreneurs, Intrapreneurs
Chris Kalaboukis is the co-founder of helloFUTURE, a foresight, innovation, and patent development consultancy in the Silicon Valley. A visionary disruptive innovator and prolific inventor, he is named on 60+ patents in the internet, social networking, and fintech space. An experienced technologist and coder, he has architected, developed, and launched a multitude of apps, both web, and mobile. A serial entrepreneur, he has helmed several startups from inception to launch. Recently, he has been specializing in the development of innovative new products and services via innovation, patent and foresight programs for financial services, technology, media, and retail/e-commerce companies, from startups to enterprises. He has authored several books on innovation and the future and blogs and podcasts at thinkfuture.com.
One of the big differences between those who succeed and those who haven’t succeeded yet is the ability to take a risk. To leap into the unknown, and deal with the results. It’s often cited as one of the reasons why investors will not back entrepreneurs over the age of 35 – their potential for risk taking is lessened (personally I think that it more like they expect the entrepreneur to not have a life outside of the business and pour their entire lives into it – something that if you ask me, stifles innovation and serendipity which leads to new thinking) because of their age – that they have less stomach for it.
This is BS, if you ask me.
There is no specific age where your risk taking muscles just suddenly cease to function. The propensity for risk taking can be something that you are born with and runs throughout your life, something that you start off with and lose, or something you can build. It’s like a muscle we all have – sometimes its strong, sometimes it’s weak, and you need to work at it to make it stronger. But it’s not something you lose, unless you want to lose it.
I’m not saying that you can’t succeed without risk taking, but you have a much better chance of it if you do. The good thing about your risk taking muscle is that you don’t need to take huge risks in order to work it. You can start small – pushing slowly out of your comfort zone, then push to bigger and bigger risks, until you get you where you want to be.
There are a number of techniques that you can use in order to build up your risk taking muscle – one of the quickest ways to do it is to get yourself a coach or guide to push you there. As I said in an earlier post, you can bring someone in to push you out of your comfort zone, build up your risk taking muscle, then eventually, you will be able to tackle it on your own. Unlike physical training, where even if you do months and months or boot camp, you may fall back into your old habits, the mental coaching is more likely to stick.
Another method which seems to work for many is the “act like” model – where you put on a show – you act like you are already able to take the risk, and your outward self-pushes you enough in order to go ahead and take that risk.
Risk taking is at the core of success, it’s at the core of disruptive innovation, and it’s at the core of new breakthrough thinking. If you are not taking risks, then you have to ask yourself, am I really doing something innovative?