The Risk… In Not Taking Risks

I get asked a lot—scratch that — I get told a lot that I must enjoy the ups and downs of startup life. While it’s always in good nature, it’s also always made out to seem as though I am predisposed to taking risks.

I’m often left stumbling on my words, never quite knowing how to respond to these types of comments. I end up resorting to something along the lines of, “I’ve gotten used to it” accompanied with an awkward laugh. After all, I’ve spent pretty much my entire career in some version of a startup, so this type of comment fits the mould.

But, do I love the emotional roller coaster? Or the financial yo-yo? Of course not. It’s never fun to be on an emotional roller coaster. The high, high’s, the low, lows — there’s meds for that. It’s also why some in the startup community have started to come forward with profound stories of the real struggles with depression, even suicide. Being a founder, janitor, leader, investor, and employee all in one, in a high stress environment, can be exhausting.

See the truth is… given the choice between jelly-filled strawberry iced sprinkled donuts and classic glazed. I choose glazed every time. I always order the same thing at the restaurants I go to. I wouldn’t be caught jumping out of an airplane, and I most certainly wear my seat belt whenever I get into a car.

While I’ve trained myself to live in ambiguity and yes, have some level of comfort amidst the chaos. The examples above are proof that I, my friend, am no more predisposed to taking risks than the person sitting next to me. But what I’ve decided, is that if I don’t choose what I want to do in this life, someone else will choose for me. That is one risk I’m not willing to take.

As you can probably tell, this ongoing narrative that those who start something are somehow, born to or more inclined to take risks is something I find incredibly frustrating and would like to put an end to in this post. If you are someone who finds yourself in a comfortable position hesitating to jump in to a new project because you’re not sure if you’re “made for it.”

Don’t buy into the lie. I’m here to tell you it’s not true.