A risk taker is someone who is willing to do things that involve danger or risk in order to achieve a goal.
In order to be successful, whether in business or in life, we have to be able to take risks. At least that’s what I’ve been told by countless college professors through lectures, textbooks, but most importantly by my dad, an entrepreneur himself. It’s no secret that we all want to be successful and fulfill our personal dreams, but is risk taking the answer? Would I personally consider myself a risk taker?
Well, I’ll let you decide.
A few years ago, I took a spontaneous trip to Atlantic City and spent a couple hours in a casino just watching people throw away money. After I learned the game of blackjack, I decided to give it go. With a bit beginners luck and about two hours of playing, with free drinks being handed to me, I walked away from the table with a hundred dollar casino chip in my hand. By playing it safe and not getting carried away I was able to walk away with some money, I was thrilled. On my way to the teller’s window, I walked by a rather empty roulette table and for whatever reason I yelled out “seventeen.”
As the dealer made his final call for the last bets, I was advised to place my newly won, black chip on the roulette table. Why not? If I lose, I break even. No loses or gains, but instinctively, I held onto my chip. I mean, what were my chances of actually winning on a roulette table? At the time I had no idea and as the dealer closed the bets, I watched the little white ball bounce a few times and land.
What number did it land on? Yep, you guessed it, seventeen. I honestly couldn’t make this story up even if I tried. I have my husband, the bitter witness, who also happens to be the one who told me to place the chip on the table, to back me up. My chances of actually winning, by placing a single chip on the winning number, were 35 to 1. To put it in simpler terms, I could have left the casino that night with $3,500 instead of 100.
So, to go back to the original question and based on this story, am I risk taker? No. But, do I regret not playing the odds and placing that chip on the table? Absolutely. As a matter of fact, I went the next day to give it another go and naturally lost those $100 in a blink of an eye. And as my dad’s favorite song, the Gambler, would say, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, Know when to fold ’em, Know when to walk away, Know when to run.”
It’s important to realize that taking risks and making decisions could lead to disappointment, but the reward can be greater than playing it safe. If I want my life to go in a certain direction, I’m going to have to learn to go with my gut and take a chance. Always remembering that taking risks doesn’t mean taking them blindly. Planning and preparing yourself to take that leap is a crucial part of its success and JetStream Federal Credit Union CEO, Jeanne Kucey, is well-aware of this fact.
“While I’m definitely a risk taker, at the same time, I do my homework and understand the importance of implementation and follow through. You can’t just throw a bunch of ideas without seeing the whole process of a project and what the end should be or look like.”
One of the biggest risks I have ever taken was moving to Europe, at just twenty-one years old. At the time I didn’t see it as taking a risk, I was just young and following my heart. Making that decision completely changed my life. As great as that may sound, lately, I’ve thought about the repercussions of making that decision. I’ve lived in Europe for five years now and I can say I have done things I wouldn’t have been able to do if I decide to have the conventional life of a twenty-one-year-old back in the states. But, if I truly want to make this whole experience worthwhile I’ll have to place my chip on the table.
I’ll have to take advantage of the experiences and opportunities I have while living overseas. Right now I’m figuring out how I want to take this challenge on. Making up my mind up and deciding to take a chance against the odds, is only the first step.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain