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Successful entrepreneurs rely on many skillsets when it comes to building businesses and developing new ideas. Hard work, access to capital, and luck all play a role. So, too, does risk-taking. Taking on a big endeavor invariably involves a degree of risk, so it pays to develop the self-confidence and strategic thinking needed to assume those risks.

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Chris Hadfield Teaches Space ExplorationChris Hadfield Teaches Space Exploration

The former commander of the International Space Station teaches you the science of space exploration and what the future holds.

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3 Benefits of Taking Risks

Successful people take risks in order to push past obstacles. Risks can expose you to a degree of physical, financial, or emotional danger, yet they may be required in order to pursue new opportunities. The benefits of taking calculated risks can include:

  1. Increased self-confidence: Emotionally risky activities, like public speaking, can lead to positive outcomes where you gain new confidence in your own abilities.
  2. New skills: By going outside your comfort zone in sports, the arts, or academics, you can improve your abilities. This also leads to a self-confidence boost.
  3. Financial rewards: Investing requires calculated risk. Pursuing a new job or a better work-life balance also involves a level of risk for most businesspeople. Building your own business from scratch hinges on many huge risks.

Chris Hadfield on Taking Risks to Learn New Skills

​5 Tips for Taking Better Risks

If you know you would benefit from taking more smart risks but find yourself paralyzed by apathy or negative thoughts, there are several tips to help you take on the kind of risks that can genuinely improve your life.

  1. Develop a system for assessing risk. The first place to start when weighing a big risk is to write out a list of all the pros and cons. By looking at positive and negative outcomes side-by-side, you can assess whether a risk is worth taking.
  2. Move past the fear of failure. Obsessing over a worst-case scenario can cause you to forego the risk that could take your life or career to the next level. If you can let go of anxiety and focus on the potential positive outcomes of risk, you may unleash your inner risk-taker.
  3. Think about the upside of change. The idea of change can be scary, and risk-taking involves unknown levels of change. Rather than focus on all the potential negative outcomes, think about why you're considering changing your present situation. For example, if you’re having trouble finding a good job and meaningful relationships in your current town, consider what life might be like in a new city. If a move could facilitate a better life, it might be worth the risk.
  4. Find ways to take on incremental risk. The first time you dive into a new endeavor, you may not want to put too much on the line. Instead of taking the biggest risk possible, think about small steps that can get you on the same path. Instead of quitting your job to start your own business, consider launching that business as a side hustle. Once it's up and running, perhaps you'll feel confident about taking it on as a full-time job.
  5. Seek out advice from calculated risk-takers. You may know people in your daily life who overcame their own fear of risk to try something a bit scary. Maybe they started a new business. Maybe they found a way to make new friends in a new city. Seek them out and find out how they challenged their own risk tolerance. You can also enlist the professional services of an executive coach who can help risk-averse businesspeople find smart ways to take calculated risks.
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