Getting Comfortable Taking Innovation Risks – Getting over your fear of something going wrong



So … you’ve come up with that killer idea.  To move it forward, you need to take some risk. Risk that could include: investing your retirement fund, quitting your job and possibly including convincing others to invest their retirement fund and quitting their job to join you. Suddenly you hesitate … the risk seems enormous and you start to second guess the original idea. Is the potential reward worth the risk? The natural reaction when fear takes over is to retreat back to the comfort of the “safe” option.

Each individual has their own risk profile (comfort level with taking risk).  A German researcher interviewed 20,000 people about their willingness to take risks. The researcher found:

  • Tall people are more prepared than short people to take risk (not sure I understand why)
  • Woman take fewer risks than men
  • Willingness to take risk decreased dramatically with age

The key influencers for risk across the survey were: age, genders, height and parental education.  The research also found that people who are most content with their lives (relationships, job, etc) were willing to take more risks.

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Does this mean you are doomed to never execute your killer idea if you are in one of the “unwillingness to take risk” groups (e.g. older woman)?  No!!

Recognizing that you have that tendency to shy away from risk is your first step to changing your risk profile.

To overcome your fear of risk, you need to understand what is driving your fear and then brainstorm ways to neutralize them.

What are the fears that you need to overcome?

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3 thoughts on “Getting Comfortable Taking Innovation Risks – Getting over your fear of something going wrong

  1. I’d appreciate your comments on this stretch, mentioned in Fernando Lanzer’s book ‘Take Off your glasses’:

    “The simple stuff that needs to be done is often scary stuff, which we would rather not face.
    Hence complication is a form of avoiding the simple essence.
    Complication is a form of using rationality as a shield to defend ourselves from the emotional consequences of acting.”

    I feel it in practice, trying to ‘sell’ an innovation for banks.
    Thanks in advance.