Risk Taking in Business

Risk taking is essential for success in business and life.

My experience and observation say that most people avoid risk at all costs. And for many of them, the costs are high. They endure boring jobs, bad marriages, dull and mediocre lives. They are spectators in their own game of life; they watch the risk takers, the men and women of action, the players with awe and envy from the sidelines.

Harsh? Maybe. Judgmental? Yes. And, it’s my strong opinion.

Fear is a powerful emotion. Especially, fear of the unknown. Let’s take a closer look at fear through the lens of an acronym. FEAR = False Expectations Appearing Real (also – False Evidence Appearing Real). This is not just a word game. How do I know? Because I lived a fear based life until I experienced the power of this acronym in 2006. I was in the Catskill mountains at a course called Enlightened Warrior Training Camp. The mandate of the course is “to tame the cobra of fear.” I’m sworn to secrecy, so I won’t reveal the specifics about the course. But I’ll tell you this. It fulfills its mandate.

Warrior training involves five days of intense activities with  a large group of people. Our camp had about 130 warriors. Every activity brings you face to face with different kinds of fear. Physical, emotional, and spiritual. One particular event was a major breakthrough for me. It taught me how to master fear.

The event was a scary physical challenge. Our camp leader prepared us to face this challenge by using the acronym. He explained that most of what we fear is in our heads. We anticipate or expect a painful outcome. But all expectations are in the future. They don’t exist in the present. By staying calm and focusing only on the present, on the task at hand, all of us were able to successfully complete the scary challenge. Even better, we enjoyed it! Fear vanished.

That course had a profound effect on my life. I arrived at Warrior Camp as a worrier, not a warrior. And, I was a hypochondriac. I stopped worrying about health, money, relationships, well, just about everything the day I completed the course. Since that day, my life has been an exciting adventure. I’ve had more fun and made more money than I ever could have imagined. I entered Warrior as a caterpillar; I went home as a butterfly.

Do you want happiness? Do you want enormous financial success? You can have it all if you make friends with the unknown and make risk your ally. Here’s how I did it decades ago.

I was living and working in New York City where I grew up. I had a rewarding job teaching young adults in the process of reinventing themselves after screwing up their lives. I did this for two years with various groups in different programs. At the end of one program, I was beginning to feel restless. I was ready for a new adventure and personal growth. I had applied to several graduate schools. One of them was McGill University in Montreal. I had never been to Canada, and Montreal held an exciting romantic appeal. I decided to check it out before uprooting my life in New York.

A friend of a friend hooked me up with Cindy, someone he knew in Montreal, so I had a place to stay while I explored McGill and the city. It’s hard not to like Montreal. It’s a North American city with a sexy European feel.

My visit lasted about four days. I loved the McGill campus. The school had a stellar reputation. And Montreal had seduced me. BUT – I was scared. I had a steady job in New York with good pay. I had friends and family there. I’d be moving to Montreal as a student. No income while I studied. No friends, family, or familiar faces except the person who was letting me crash at her place.

I was in serious conflict. My challenge became greater because the apartment next to the one I was staying in, was about to become vacant. I’d have a place to live while I studied.

I couldn’t sleep the night before I returned to New York. I remember standing on Cindy’s back porch watching the sun come up over the mountain in the center of Montreal. My body was tense. There were forces pulling me in opposite directions. Then it hit me. I was paralyzed by indecision because I was living in the future. I wanted to be certain that things would work out if I made this big move. I kept asking, “What if I run out of money? What if this? What if that? I wanted everything to be KNOWN. The what ifs were “false expectations appearing real.”

Suddenly, I heard a quiet voice inside myself, almost a whisper. It said, “You can’t know. And that’s okay. Close your eyes, and dive into the unknown. Just let go, and TRUST.” I listened to that voice and felt free. The rest is history. My move to Montreal was one of the best choices of my life. It led me on an adventure of discovery that will only end if I choose to feel “safe” again and abandon the unknown. My adventure has a name – Entrepreneurship.” It’s rewarding me with friendships, wealth, and freedom.

Are you standing on the brink of an exciting unknown in 2012? Does it hold the promise of new levels of success and happiness? Does it also throw roadblock signs in front of you that read, “What if…? The roadblocks are not real. Close your eyes, let go, and jump. When your eyes open again, the signs will have vanished. You’ll be a player in an exciting new game of self-discovery.

Happy New Year!

12 Responses to “Risk Taking in Business”

  1. Garmin 1490t says:

    Hey admin, incredibly informative blog post! Please continue this awesome work..

  2. Trixie says:

    That’s not just logic. That’s really sensible.

  3. Lynn Woodman says:

    Great article!

    Embracing fear as part of our humaneness allows that we are not alone. Fear is universal…many of us are blessed that we are only dealing with the fear of the unknown. We are blessed that we have so much support to reach inside to find the courage to grow ourselves…
    Thank you Louis for your support.

  4. Louis, you’re writing is always fun to read. I’ll be sure to come back.
    For me, I’ve realized that any fear I have, is my lack of faith in my higher power.
    What perceived ‘risk’ are you taking to make 2012 different?

    Much love,

    • admin says:

      Thanks for sharing, David.
      I’ll call it my leap rather than my risk for 2012. It’s to strike out in the direction of bold personal branding. It starts with my Persuasion Genie (

  5. Christine Lake says:

    To manifest the life of my dreams….
    I will risk stepping out of the safe and secure and into the unknown in pursuit of the vision of my ideal life…
    I will risk looking stupid trying things I have never done…
    I will risk being hurt by opening myself up to the potential of developing new friendships…
    I will risk failure by embracing new ventures that offer no guarantees…
    I will risk looking silly as I find and embrace joy and playfulness wherever I see it…
    I will embrace whatever risks arise as I methodically and systematically move toward the bright, colorful 3-D vision I have of my IDEAL life… And thank you Louis Di Bianco for inspiring me to ask these questions of myself as I DIVE into 2012 with vibrant energy, excitement and childlike wonder!!!! Thanks for spreading the light and love xoxo

  6. Phoenix says:

    great post!

    As I prepare to design my year of successes in 2012 your reflection has inspired me to dig deeper and walk in faith, thank you.