Take Risks


In the 1980s, I was working in the marine automation trade for a company that was servicing mainly large crude oil vessels, commonly known as ULCC and VLCC. The 1979 oil crisis and the 1980s oil glut came, and my employer was forced to close. It was my first taste of the volatility of the business environment.

It Will Never Happen to Me

Job security is a steady pay check end of every month. In reality, as you would come to understand, there is no job security. We can be the most hardworking, most contributing employee but that does not guarantee that the job still will always be there and that it is ours.

Everything is Risky

Change is Constant. Jim Rohn said that “Life is about constant predictable patterns of change.” Innovation will come from places that we overlooked. Joel Barker called this Innovation at the Verge. Joel Barker pointed out that diversity is the key to innovation because with diversity comes the opportunity for on-going innovation.

In some cases, a competitor enter the market through a simple product or service at the bottom of the market, became efficient at doing so, displacing established competitor in that market segment; repeating the same process to move up market to higher market segments. Clayton Christensen calls this disruptive innovation.

In chapter 3 of the Empty Raincoat, Charles Handy wrote about the Sigmoid Curve (also known as Sigmoidal Curve) He wrote that to keep on growing, the successful industry, organization and individual must develop a second curve out of the first. The new curve, however, must start before the first one peaks, when all the evidence is that there is no need for change. (Source: Simple Strategies for CRM Implementation by Prem Kumar Aparanji)

Life Arises From a Series of Random Events

Sir Ken Robinson, in his presentation at the Dalai Lama Center’s Educating the Heart Series pointed out that when he reflect back on his genealogical tree, he found that his 8 grandparents were all born in Liverpool, United Kingdom (his birthplace) within 2 miles of each other. He realized that that accounted for how they met – they simply bumped into each other. He reflected on how his genealogical lineage was a result of chance meetings of his ancestors, in the midst of all the on-goings in the world, including the 2 world wars, man-made and natural catastrophes. As the Dalia Lama said “To be born at all is a miracle”

Embracing Change and Taking Risks

 Jack Ma Commencement Address at HKUST

In his commencement address to the 2013 graduating class at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology on Nov. 8, 2013, Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba pointed out that:

  • We need to embrace change.
  • Life is about adventure.
  • Do not go after money. Gain respect by serving.
  • Always be optimistic. Tell yourself that tomorrow will be even better.
  • Do not live in yesterday’s success, but live in tomorrow’s dreams
  • The best way to avoid failures is to make changes to a good business model when you are performing at your peak: Fix the roof when the sun shines and not do it when it rains.
  • Do not complain. Where other people complain, that is your opportunity.

Jim Rohn: Take Risks

These are similar lessons that Jim Rohn spoke about taking risks:

  • Everything in life that we do or encounter has risks. If everything is risky, why not have a go at life?
  • Do not ask for security. Ask for adventure. Better to live 30 years full of adventure rather than 100 years safe in the corner, leading a meaningless life – What is important is not how long you live, but how you live.
  • Our lives are affected by the way we think things are. Pessimism is the deadly disease of looking on the bad side, the problem side, the difficult side, checking all the reasons why it cannot be done. The poor pessimist leads an ugly life – He does not try to figure out what is right; he tries to figure out what is wrong. To the pessimist, the glass I always half empty.
  • He pointed out that it is poor thinking habits and not working habits that keep people poor. What a person thinks about all day long or whatever he reads pour massive ingredients into his mental factory and the fabric of his life is built from those ingredients. He emphasized
  • The deadliest disease is complaining, crying, whining, murmuring or griping.

Have Courage

Jack Ma always have this saying: “I believe today is difficult, tomorrow is even more difficult, but the day after it will be beautiful.”

Jim Rohn also said the following about worry (fear):

  • Do not ask for the task to be easy. Ask for it to be worth it.
  • Do not wish it were easier. Wish you were better.
  • Do not ask for less challenge. Ask for more skills.
  • Do not ask for fewer problems. Ask for more wisdom.

Jim Rohn added that it is the challenge that makes the experience. Life, its color and meaning; adventure for you, is this collection of experiences. To wish them away is to wish your life away. Similarly, Jack Ma said that “Life is not about how much you achieve. Life is about how much you experienced.”

Jim Rohn further said : “Hey, accept the challenge, believe your beliefs, doubt your doubts, and stay on the campaign to give worry a bad time. Like being your own conscientious judge say ‘I’ve had it with the presentation of a one-sided story. I sustain the objection that worry has failed to bring out all the facts. I despise these mental courtroom maneuvers that try to belittle my client – me. I demand the whole truth. And if worry will not be silent, I may cite him for contempt of the court of reason.’ Call up that scene often, when worry wants to hassle you with the same old tricks and the same old results. It will work every time.”

Concluding Remarks

I leave you to watch about the spirit of taking risks and survival in the early history of 3M.

3M History

The 3M Story