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Big Ideas

More Insights on Taking Risks

How to embrace failure and take more (smarter) risks.


Nothing great has ever been achieved by sticking with the status quo. If you want to create something new and different, risk-taking needs to be part of your repertoire.

But that’s easier said than done when our brains are hardwired to avoid uncertainty and play it safe. When we think about risks, we think about failure. When we think about failure, we start to get scared. When we get scared, our brains send out signals to get the hell out of there. So how can we overcome our natural tendency to run away from risks? We gathered some of our favorite articles that look behind the science of why we fear failure, how persistence can create positive outcomes, and learn how our mistakes are valuable opportunities.

The 40-30-30 Rule: Why Risk Is Worth It
To improve at anything, we must at some point push ourselves outside our comfort zone. Body builders call it the “pain period.” Only by trying something new, struggling, learning, and then trying again do we improve our performance.

Screwing Up On Purpose: The Beauty of the Deliberate Mistake
By reframing tough tasks as “deliberate mistakes” we can help remove all of the pressure that can keep us frozen, all while learning something along the way.

When to Go with Your Gut
Whether you are recruiting a new colleague, naming a product, or planning an investment, there are no easy decisions. Should you analyze the options slowly and systematically, or stop thinking so hard and just go with your gut?

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone and Study Yourself Failing
Looking at the research on everyone from incredible athletes to memory champions, Foer has extracted four principles that describe how to push through the OK Plateau to achieve true greatness.

The Surfer’s Guide to Taking Risks
There’s a strong correlation between your success and your tolerance for risks in both the ocean and life – and both require the same approach and process.

Making Big Decisions and Mastering the Consequences
Most of our decisions have limited risks and rewards. Nevertheless, if we know that with hard work, perseverance, and resourcefulness we can make even a bad situation into a success.

Why You Should Give Yourself Permission to Screw Up
we need to be expanding our skills and knowledge, continuously striving to grow and improve and going beyond our comfort zones if we want to be successful.

Jad Abumrad: Why “Gut Churn” is an Essential Part of the Creative Process
Using examples from Radiolab’s own evolution, Jad shares the benefits of negative feedback and how we can look out for “pointing arrows” that can help guide our work (even when it hurts).

Voltaire Quote

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Learn more about taking risks in our new 99U book:
Maximize Your Potential: Grow Your Expertise, Take Bold Risks and Build an Incredible Career

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