On risk

Cutting my dad's hair during April 2020 quarantine.

Analyzing risk is something I do professionally.  Clients consult with me on the risks their businesses face, and I help them find solutions for those risks. In business or enterprise risk, your four main response options are to mitigate, avoid, transfer or accept the risk. A majority of the time, the solutions are wrapped in a combination of those responses.  For example, a commercial building owner has a risk that his building will become damaged or destroyed in a fire.  That owner will mitigate the risk by installing sprinkler systems and warning systems.  He will avoid the risk by only allowing tenants to rent from him who don't increase the probability of a fire (e.g. a restaurant or a manufacturer of combustible products).  He will transfer a majority of the financial risk of a fire via insurance.  He accepts that certain aspects of this risk can't be avoided, transferred or mitigated.  He understands that statistical probabilities matter when making an assessment of risk, and certain factors influence these probabilities (historical data, geography/location, construction type and age of the building - for example).  Understanding these facts give him comfort and help him make wise decisions.

The potential benefits of owning this building far out-weigh the risks.  His monthly tenant rents give him cashflow and income.  The building asset appreciates over time and drives up his net worth.  Someday the building may become his retirement plan, or an inheritance to a next generation.  He could have avoided it all by never buying the building, going into debt or investing his time.  But if nothing is risked, nothing will be gained.

Every single business I work with swims in an ocean of risk every single day.  If they simply stayed on the beach, they would never catch a single fish.


On November 24, I am scheduled do donate a kidney to my dad.  What a gift to be elected and to be called to be the donor!  I feel unworthy of this responsibility, but I step forward without a bit of hesitation.  I could (and will) write more about how I'm processing all this and what it feels like, but I'll stay on "risk" for now.  There is a risk any time you get surgery that you may not wake up.  There is a risk that my dad's body won't accept recycled parts and this will be all for naught.  There is a risk that the 4-6 week recovery will suck and bring a lot of pain.  There is a risk that my one kidney that I need to go the distance with between now and when I die will crap out on me.  There is a risk that this decision might impact my work and my relationships negatively.

I weigh-out the potential risks, and then consider the potential gains.  My dad's life is extended and is without the pain of failing kidneys.  The benefits of having him around, without the pain and distraction, are insurmountable.  There will be deep, lasting generational impact in our family.  This will also bring hope to any who care to watch and to learn.  The benefits to me, on top of everything I just mentioned, will break the scale.  I get to follow through on being who I want to be.  My heroes have been ones who exhibit extreme courage in the face of danger.  The stories that have inspired me most are ones of self-sacrifice to the benefit of others.  This affords me a chance to live that story.


For so many, their relationship with risk is completely broken.  They only employ a response strategy of avoidance in the face of any kind of danger.  

Who do you benefit by cowering in the face of risk?  Only yourself?

You are a data-collecting vessel.  As you move about this life, you receive and interpret risk information.  Consider the varying response strategies and weigh-out the potential gains.  Do you really want to risk a lot of gain (especially for others) to avoid a little pain?

Fear puts up a roadblock in front of mitigation.  It blocks you from engaging in transfer.  It won't let you accept.  Fear forces you to deploy avoidance as your only strategy.  Fear is a liar.


My belief is that there was a Son, who was called by his Father, to sacrifice his life and conquer death to the eternal benefit of all.  Nothing I will experience will compare to that pain.  Because of what he did, my future is already taken care of and decided.  Risk looks a lot different when you live in that reality.


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