What does time have to do with risk?

“But time makes you bolder” are lines from a song by the rock group Fleetwood Mac. But does it? We have a saying in motorcycling that “There are bold riders and there are old riders, but there are no ‘old’ bold riders.” I find that as I grow older, I am getting more cautious in many areas of my life. When we are young, we think we will live forever. When we grow old, we are much more aware of our mortality. We no longer think we are invincible. We have suffered broken bones and broken hearts. We realize that few things will last forever. This makes us more cautious. Once you find that fire burns, you are less likely to stick your hand in it. There are many things in life that burn. The older we get, the (hopefully) wiser we become.

As with anything, we can be overly cautious. Age can bring wisdom and vigilance. However, excessive vigilance and caution can make us pass up many wonderful opportunities. Life cannot be lived to the fullest strictly by observing caution. I tell my students that everything in life involves risk. We all must be risk takers to live. There are two types of risk takers. One is smart, these are the risk minimizers. The other is foolish. These are the risk maximizers. For example, a risk maximizer does not wear a helmet while riding. A risk minimizer always wears a helmet when riding. You cannot be successful in business without taking risks either. However, you have a choice between being a risk minimizer or a risk maximizer. A smart business person tries to minimize risk.

The question for all of us as we age is this: “Where do we need to be “bolder” and where is it smart to be more cautious?” I would hate to think that growing old meant I had to give up motorcycling, skiing, skydiving, scuba diving or any of the other sports that I enjoy. Nevertheless, I would like to think I am more cautious in each of these activities and that I no longer take the same risks I did when I was younger and bolder. Where in your life have you become more cautious? Where have you become too cautious? Are there areas where you need to take “more” risk? How about areas where you need to take fewer risks?

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