The Importance Of Taking Smart Risks

William Gurstelle is a man of many talents. By day, he’s the Ballistics and Pyrotechnics editor for Popular Mechanics magazine, but in his spare time, he studies risk. He’s been studying it for years, and his insights on the topic are worth paying attention to.

In conducting his research, Gurstelle looked to the extremes of risk-taking and developed a system that can measure what kind of risk-taker you are, in much the same way that you can measure your IQ.

Unsurprisingly, he found that most people exist right in the middle of the risk-taking spectrum. Those who live and thrive just to the right of the scale are the group that Gurstelle refers to as the “Golden Third.” These are the people we regard as the lucky ones. Things just seem to go their way on a regular basis, and as a result, they are happier and more satisfied than the rest of us.

Gurstelle, though, has a different view of this group. He doesn’t regard them as lucky at all. It’s simply that they understand the value of the calculated gamble. The well-considered risk.

They’re not daredevils; they simply weigh the odds and consider the consequences of failure and when they feel that the risk is warranted, they’ll make the leap and take a chance. More often than not, they guess correctly and it all works out fine.

From the outside looking in, we say they’re lucky. They’re not. They’re calculating and they understand the potential rewards that come from taking some risks.

As with any other behavior, this can be learned. It involves being mindful of opportunities that present themselves to you, and having a good understanding of how likely you are to succeed at whatever it is you’re thinking about trying.

It can be uncomfortable to push the envelope like that, but according to Gurstelle, that just means you’re doing it right! If you’re feeling trapped by your life and the circumstances you find yourself in, this is definitely something to think about. Take control of your life and your happiness. Take a few well-considered chances!