Risk what you know

Ever wonder what makes someone take risks? Take the next step? Have a go at something they’ve never tried before? I ask myself these questions, mostly about myself, all the time.

This jewel is from my friend, Tom Feltenstein, and it’s in his book, Uncommon Wisdom:

The times when I’ve been truly creative - when I’ve been the boldest and most imaginative, when I’ve taken the lead–have been those times when I was willing not to know. When I was willing to risk what I knew, for what I might learn.

I believe the ability to “risk what I know, for what I might learn” is the essence of entrepreneurialism. And in the not knowing, but going forward anyway, we find the conjoined, twin emotions of fear and exhilaration.

The Twins presage possibility: Might be good–might not be. Might be extremely successful–might be a train wreck. And contemplating the possibility produces the head-rush entrepreneurs get at the moment they risk what they know for what they might learn.

You will never hear me minimize doing research. An entrepreneur’s hunch without some foundation of research is like a belt without belt loops. Some entrepreneurs take risks; smart entrepreneurs take calculated risks. Still, there comes a time, especially for entrepreneurs, when you must take action even though you don’t have all the answers.

The difference in entrepreneurs, therefore, is in how long each one can wait for answers before taking action: How the point of possibility is defined, and when to risk what is known for what might be learned.

To know, or to act? That is the question.

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