From economic cost-benefit analysis to moral philosophy and ethics, the notion risk is all-pervasive. Neil Gaiman once wrote, “If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you have gained.” As a successful novelist, Gaiman is lucky. It is easy to retrospectively write about the importance of taking risks, largely because for someone like Gaiman, it has paid off. The real questions about risk are asked when there is uncertainty. When you have everything to lose and no guarantee that there is anything you will win, that is when risk-taking and being bold becomes a leap of faith.
I don’t think there is a straight answer to the question posed. But what can be said is that Gaiman wasn’t wrong. Without risk, there is nothing. In a world dotted with large multinational corporations, it is easy to become just another employee in a faceless organisation. Opportunities for growth within any organisation are limited, but vertical leaps and promotions are not enough for anyone. For those with an entrepreneurial endeavour, success knows no bounds and contentment can’t be achieved. It is scary to think that in the absence of a few bold men, so many ideas would be wasted. In our world stuck in late-stage capitalism, startup culture has picked up a new head of steam. People across industries are leaving high paying jobs in search of gratification that means more than money ever could.
Even in the field of education, risk-taking is unavoidable. Northeastern University President Joseph E. Aoun captured it best when he said, “Universities are moving forward not by playing it safe but by capitalizing on its differentiation.”He encourages risk-taking, subscribing to the view that it really is the backbone of innovation and human growth. Our education system must take this into account. The skills imparted to us have become outdated. Human nature has evolved and people are now far more willing to take risks, but not everyone is prepared for it. Here is when we must try to bring about change. Let us not teach our kids what was relevant 30 years ago. Let’s also give them the skills they need to succeed. Nothing makes it easier to take a risk than a greater chance of success, so let us give our kids the necessary confidence to be bold.