Diving in the Shallow End

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-girl-diving-pool-image2866893Are you conservative or aggressive? Are you more Warren Buffet or Richard Branson? Is one of them reckless and the other careful?

I say they’re more alike than you think.

It comes down to a topic I’ve touched on several times – risk. Both take risks but they are not risky – they find ways to minimize and manage risk.

Risk in business is like a swimmer approaching a pool. Diving into the water is not a risky thing on its own but diving into a pool with an unknown depth is.

Doing your research, finding out the depth of the pool, then planning your entry is how you minimize risk. The angle of entry is how you manage risk. What neither Warren Buffet nor Richard Branson do is dive in the shallow end, the risk is too high. Instead they seek out the deep end. The deep end offers the most benefit with the least risk. It might still be dangerous but it’s less dangerous.

Of course once the research is done and the decision is made you still have to dive in and that’s what a lot of people don’t do, or wait too long to do and miss out on the opportunity. Once the key information is determined you have to move. Like a quote I used in the chapter called Risk in What Next, Lee Ioccoca, former CEO of Chrysler said: ““I have always found that if I move with seventy-five percent or more of the facts that I usually never regret it. It’s the guys who wait to have everything perfect that drive you crazy.”

So avoid diving in the shallow end but do dive in!


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Be Afraid

SuccessWhen you look at a successful person you don’t imagine that fear is a problem for them. People who take risks and innovate, aren’t afraid. Fear is something entrepreneurs, executives, and leaders have done away with. Right?

Not really. The fear is always there and while some will say they have overcome their fear or pushed through their fear, what they’re really saying is, they have managed their fear, controlled it, and even used it to their advantage.

The question then becomes how? How do you manage fear?

Understand Fear

First you have to understand what the fear is telling you and why you’re afraid. No one is afraid of public speaking, they’reBe Afraid afraid they’ll look like a fool, stumble and stutter, mess up, that maybe they aren’t the expert people believe they are. I’m afraid of heights but I don’t get scared looking out the window of an airplane. What I’m really afraid of is falling, my fear of heights seems to be a lack of confidence in my ability to maintain balance. Take the onus off of me and I’m fine.

Direct Fear

The fear you feel is telling you how to manage it. If you’re afraid that you’ll stumble over words in a speech, then practice. Gather a group of friends or family and deliver your speech to them, if you stumble over any words, change them, if you lose track of where you are, focus. On a personal note I did this, I delivered a speech to just my wife and I was probably more nervous than when I was in front of the real audience because it felt stupid talking to one person like she was a larger group. That alone made me more comfortable when the real speech day arrived.

When I rock climb I direct my fear to checking and double checking my ropes, I concentrate and focus on the task of climbing, testing each foothold and handhold as I go. I breath and try to calm myself, gaining confidence in my preparation.

Manage Fear

Fear can be a good thing, a healthy fear, to keep you focused and motivated to do well or not to die. Overcoming fear seems risky to me because I might no longer respect the power and danger in a situation. I’m a strong swimmer, I don’t fear the water in the sense that I avoid it, but I do respect it as I enjoy its benefits.

Do it Anyway

Sometimes you aren’t given a choice and simply have to do something that scares you. I tell a story in What Next A Proactive Approach to Success about a job I was asked to do. When I started my job at ABC, I listed knowledge of a particular editing system called Avid on my resume. That listing was true but I had never edited a full news story on that system. When I was asked to edit a 20/20 special I got scared. My fear wasn’t of the editing it was of my ability to make the leap from basic editing to high end work.

I managed the situation by spending the weekend before the project was to begin, practicing, learning, remembering. When I began the project I was extremely motivated not to fail. I still felt uneasy but I did it anyway.

What techniques do you use to manage your fear? Please share below. Also take a moment to vote in the poll to the right – How do you see obstacles?

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