Get Inspired By These Epic Risk-Takers

| August 20, 2014 | By
Risk Is Worth It

As an entrepreneur trying to get profitable pursuing your passion, you get asked one question more than any other:


You have an idea, a dream and a passion. But when you try to explain it, you run into a bunch of raised eyebrows, misunderstanding and skepticism. You’re crazy! 

Yes. Yes, you are. And this is why you want to be:

The popular, obvious, guaranteed ideas have definitely been taken, or are so small that they're not really worth your blood and tears. 

That means if the new title of your book is instantly understood by all, it's generic or descriptive, not something that people will associate with you as a creator or as someone who brings us new insight.

That means if your app does something so predictable that everyone is sure it's going to work, you're not making a big enough leap.

And that means that if your political idea is so palatable that everyone is going to vote for it immediately, it's not going to change anything.” - Seth Godin

As soon as you open your mouth you should be changing things, and the moment you start telling people about your entrepreneurial dreams is the moment you'll start to feel uncomfortable. The first word out of your mouth is the beginning of a journery through the discomfort, and rewards, of risk.

"Open the door just a little bit, and take a look at what's outside." - Ben Saunders

Saunders is a polar explorer who knows what risk really looks like: extreme cold and exertion for months at a time. When he skied solo to the North Pole he ran the equivalent of 31 marathons back-to-back, traveled 800 miles in 10 weeks, and dragged 400 pounds of food and supplies behind him--all in -40 degrees (frostbite can happen in less than a minute). The number one question he gets asked:


Listen to his answer. Every minute is filled with powerful images that will remind you why it is that you take the risks you take, and where he says the real meat of life is.


No one wants to take a risk when unprepared. That's just stupid. Each business venture will require a different set of skills and processes. So we've gathered together a list of 3 necessary actions all risk-takers should take if they want to overcome discomfort and failure to ultimately reach success.

#1 - Define Risk For Yourself

Successful leaders define risk differently. You might think it’s safe to have a 9 to 5, but successful entrepreneurs think your 9 to 5 is the ultimate risk--that of losing their soul. You want a paycheck. They want a soul. 

Define Risk



N. Taylor Thompson defines risk as “the probability of an unacceptable outcome.”

You know it, and I know it: unacceptable outcomes are bound to happen when you step out the 9 to 5 door. However, what is unacceptable to one person will be different with the next person. Plus, who says a 9 to 5 is a guarantee of safety? Many of us know that an economic downturn can threaten anyone's safety. Entrepreneurs trust their own abilities to take care of themselves.

What’s your definition of risk? What risks are you more qualified to take than someone else? What do you risk if you don’t take a risk?

#2 - Embrace Discomfort & Difference

“Learning how to be comfortable while being uncomfortable, is something that most of us have to learn how to do. Most of us can’t even tolerate being uncomfortable for short amounts of time. Finding ways to be with your discomfort is an essential skill for staying in the race.” - Psychology Today

If you’re comfortable, you probably don’t have an idea that is a real game-changer, and you’re definitely not innovating.

Nilofer Merchant argues that “teams can’t innovate if they’re too comfortable.”

Innovative entrepreneurs decide that difference matters. Rather than preaching to the choir, they seek out people who think differently than they do--they seek out people who will challenge their approach, and they’re willing to be uncomfortable. 

Innovation Costs


The CEO of Yahoo, Melissa Mayer acknowledged:

“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this’...sometimes that’s a sign that something really good is about to happen.”

John Hall advises, “Go out of your comfort zone, and ask ‘what do I have to lose?’”

#3 - Persevere & Give Your Whole Self

“[Failures] are going to happen--especially if you’re going to try new things, be new things and especially if you’re going to live a life worth living.”

I love this interview with Dr. Cathy Collautt where she points out that failure and success are on the same path, and that we must learn to deal with setbacks.


Ben Saunders risks his life to do what he loves. While most of us don’t need to risk our lives, we do need to risk the comfort of staying in the safety of the status quo.

Saunders does give strong caution:

“[Risk] is something addictive--it has the tendency to burn up all the money [you] can get [your] hands on, and ruin every relationship [you’ve] ever had.”

Be smart about your risks, and find the right process for you to thrive and become truly profitable in both revenue and life. 

The status quo isn’t a guarantee of profitability either. Will you have the courage to take the risk?

Take Action


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(2014, July 14) Pillay, Srini. 3 Reasons You Underestimate Risk. HBR Blog Network. Retrieved on August 19, 2014 from

(2012, October 6) Madsen, Pamela. Can You Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable? Psychology Today. Retrieved on August 19, 2014 from

(2012, June 12) Seeing Through Pain. Psychology Today. Retrieved on August 19, 2014 from

(2014, August 14) Merchant, Nilofer. Teams Can't Innovate If They're Too Comfortable. HBR Blog Network. Retrieved on August 19, 2014 from

(2014, July 10) Firestone, Karen. A Case For Group Risk-Taking. HBR Blog Network. Retrieved on August 19, 2014 from

(2012, September 28) Mills-Scofield, Deborah. Are Entrepreneurs Really More Comfortable With Risk? HBR Blog Network. Retrieved on August 19, 2014 from

(2014, January 16) Zwilling, Martin. How To Balance Business Risk Versus Opportunity. Forbes. Retrieved on August 19, 2014 from


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