View Full Version : Are you better at minimizing risks or taking advantage on opportunities?

08-13-2003, 08:31 AM
At a lecture I once attended, the speaker claimed people based their decisions and action on one of two life purposes: either minimizing risk or taking advantage of potential opportunities.

He went on to say that it becomes your life purpose when you tend to do one or the other much more than the other and this facility colors how you see the world, ie, someone whose good with a hammer sees everything as a nail and someone whose good at minimizing risk sees everything as a risk.

The lecture wasn't so much about creativity but he did say that the most creative people were better at the capitalizing on opportunities and not so good at minimizing risk.

So I thought it would be good to have a poll here in Creativity to see.

08-13-2003, 09:40 AM
Damn, I can't vote at work!

One thing I forgot, the speaker mentioned an exercise to confirm which camp you fall into.

Keep a decision log for one day and count the decisions you make to avoid something unpleasant. If that number is above 50%, you fall in the minimize risk camp; under 50%, you fall in the capitalize opportunity camp.

Stoy Jones
08-13-2003, 10:49 AM
Originally posted by DanaT
someone whose good with a hammer sees everything as a nail and someone whose good at minimizing risk sees everything as a risk.

That is an easy vote for me. I jump into just about anything without not knowing how to do it correctly, especially with my artwork. I like this approach, because I learn better by doing than reading. I also have a bad habit of saying "its not impossible to do" and learn the hard way, but it doesn't stop me.


08-13-2003, 10:59 AM
Interesting observation, stoy. Do you think you're naturally creative?

I'd like to say I seek out opportunities but I'm going to observe myself for a couple of days to see what I really do.

Keith Russell
08-13-2003, 12:12 PM
Dana, that sounds like a very rational response.

I think I'll do the same...


08-13-2003, 03:27 PM
full speed a head !!!!!!How about capitalizing on minimizing risk on opportunities, I tend to be this way. You know having my cake and eating it too....

08-13-2003, 05:03 PM
Well, I'm afraid that being a high risk-taker is part of me. :) Always has been, always will be. I've gotten much better at thinking before jumping. But usually that thinking is just the rationalisation for the jump. Oh, did I mention that I can rationalise ANYTHING?!? It's a gift. :D

I tend to take big-type risks too, financial and otherwise. I'm crazy. Or brave. Frankly, I don't see that I have a choice. If I want life to be good, my definition of good which involves painting fulltime, I need to try whatever opportunities come my way. I usually don't see these things as big. I've managed quite a few major events that other people seem to think were a big deal and I just saw as what I had to do at the time. (Qutting my job, moving to another country, going to grad school for something completely personal and useless, a practical marriage, buying a flat, quitting my job, selling my flat ...oh, and did I mention being an artist?;))

Say yes and THEN figure out how you're going to do it. That's my motto!


Stoy Jones
08-13-2003, 08:26 PM
Originally posted by DanaT
Interesting observation, stoy. Do you think you're naturally creative?

My wife rolls her eyes when I start something. She calls it my "toadymania" after Wind in the Willows. :D

I'm afraid I'm like Timelady, unless the risk involves bodily harm,(lol!) I have always done things differently.


08-14-2003, 09:35 AM
Well after observing myself for a day, I think I make decisions to minimize risk. I wasn't sure because I come from a VERY risk adverse upbringing and so my family always thought my behavior was too risky.

They're not really good judges though. To give you an idea, I recently told them that I was taking my company's severance package and studying art for a year. They thought I was crazy. But, my company is offering me a 13.5 month severance package that gives me my regular salary and all my benefits till December 2004. With that scenario, the least amount of time I will have after school to look for a job is 6 months. But that according to my parents is extremely risky and foolhardy.

However, I'm working in a company in a dying industry and the word is out that they're moving the company headquarters in a last ditch effort to save money. The risk that the company won't be able to save the money by the move and will have to have another round of layoffs with a less generous severance is also unthought of in my family's calculations of risk.

So even though my action sounds like a major life risk, I think I only took it with the biggest safety net I could find.

08-14-2003, 04:13 PM
Go for it, Dana. You've analyzed it pretty well, it's a sweet deal and if you didn't do it, you'd always wonder where you'd be if you did. It sounds risky to me NOT to take it.

The work world is NOT what it was when our parents were in it. My dad is 72, worked for 3 companies his entire life, one of which was the family grocery store. I worked in 3 companies within one year, each time getting more money. There's no loyalty, they're shipping white collar jobs, in addition to the blue collar ones, to India, industries get hot then cool. Not the same world. They can't identify, I'm sure. Not to mention that you're an artist. I've encouraged my kids to take LOTS of crazy chances and try out whatever while they are unattached. It is harder to do if you settle down and have your own kids. Up to then, why not? (There's always a room in my house, so what's the big deal?)

08-15-2003, 08:11 PM
Thanks Robin. Im definitely taking the package.

You're right/ Our parents grew up in the Depression; its a different mindset.

Ron van den Boogaard
08-16-2003, 04:52 PM
It's an interesting proposition. Which, once again, as always, has to do with perception. A few days back I had ten Euro's left, so I spend E 7.50 on paint I desperately needed.
So basically mimimizing the risk that I would be without paint. A friend, when told, accused me of taking a risk in not buying food.....

So, perception.....

08-16-2003, 09:02 PM
Good point Ron. I think we're talking about our perception here not other people's.

08-17-2003, 07:47 AM
Wow Dana your plan sounds excellent... I have a friend who is also getting a large severance package and she's taking a year off to study art.

Where will you study?

I dream of taking a year off to pursue my art and if I get a severance package I will do the same.

I am not a big risk taker.. I always play it safe which feels good for someone who needs the security of a paycheque but I am trading away precious years being underemployed when I could be risking much more and growing.
Hmmmmm... time to think about some risk.


08-17-2003, 08:55 AM
Yes, that's what I thought when I heard this speaker, possum. It does get you thinking.

08-17-2003, 10:27 AM
Thanks for the topic, Dana -- quite thought-provoking. Certainly, I've become a risk-minimizer.

This really has me wondering if my cautious (alright, cowardly) attitude has affected my ability to be creative. Something (or a group of somthings) has impacted my skills -- time to analyze security issues!

I feel I'm approaching a cusp in regards to staying with my job or striking off to new territory and this gives me a different angle with which to approach the quandary.

Best of luck with your year of severance. I'd do the same thing, given the chance.

Stoy Jones
08-17-2003, 10:45 AM
Originally posted by Ron van den Boogaard
It's an interesting proposition. Which, once again, as always, has to do with perception. A few days back I had ten Euro's left, so I spend E 7.50 on paint I desperately needed.
So basically mimimizing the risk that I would be without paint. A friend, when told, accused me of taking a risk in not buying food.....

So, perception.....

Lol....that is true! It never occured to me. I suppose it is a matter of perception and tendency. I "tend" to be more cautious with myself than I am with things. I have an older brother who loves to do extreme sports where I like the idea of surviving a few more years :D


08-17-2003, 03:51 PM
This is a very interesting thread.

I know I used to take a lot more risks when I was younger and had less responsibility; I now depend on a paycheque to keep me in the comfort I have come to enjoy and expect. ( I'm less likely to mouth off to the boss...)

As a parent, I have had to minimize physical risks, partially as an example to the kids, to take care of them and myself. Has it "tainted" all aspects of my life? Most definitely.

I think I take more care when I am uncertain; in places where I don't know the territory so well--but will take risks, and experiment in a less cautious way when I better understand the medium, or care more about the outcome. If I am running out of materials, I'm a little ol' lady.

p.s. Has anyone here heard of or studied Neurolinguistic Programming? aka NLP? I think it relates well to this thread; art and communication and pretty interesting.

08-17-2003, 05:51 PM
Physically I'm really a wimp. When I learned to ski I couldn't understand why my muscles hurt so bad. My brother laughed and said that I had been putting on the brakes all the way down the slope. The solution was go faster. I didn't really care for that solution.

08-20-2003, 12:12 PM
Hmmm, we're almost running neck and neck here. 7 vs. 6

Anyone else want to share how their approach to decision making affects their creativity? :)

08-20-2003, 03:28 PM
I think I am good at finding opertunities, I just have to work at making use of them.

Of course most people calculate risks to some degree... We check to see if we have enough money, and check to see if we can accomplish what we are doing..> That's normal, of course.

But then, a often people who are deamed succesful are those who fly in the face of risk... they beat the odds and move on, and get a lot out of the deal...

08-20-2003, 08:46 PM
Originally posted by arriviste
Certainly, I've become a risk-minimizer.

This really has me wondering if my cautious (alright, cowardly) attitude has affected my ability to be creative.

Best of luck with your year of severance. I'd do the same thing, given the chance.

Sadly I've had to check the risk minimiser box.

I've never stopped to think about it before.

I'm with arriviste and wondering how much it has affected me.
Great topic, Dana.

08-21-2003, 09:17 AM
I am a risk minimizer when it comes to most things, but I promote taking advantage of opportunities to my children, husband and family members. I didn't really think much about this until I read this thread. Hmm... what a revelation this could be.

I am also one of those that took advantage of opportunities when I was younger and have gradually moved towards minimizing risks as I have grown older. ack! Am I listening to my mother/aunt/grandma/people always harping at me to get my act together and my head out of the clouds? Wow!

I think this could be why I get so stuck with unfinished pieces of art. I begin with leaving my cares to the wind and as I begin to get it to the finish line, I suddenly get this surge of "Is this going to be appealing to anyone else? Is this acceptable? Will anyone besides me be drawn to something like this?" If I don't abandon it all together, I am guilty of tweaking it until its awful. An interesting "AHA!" for me. Definately something I can work on. Great thread!

08-21-2003, 10:05 AM

I read once that adult riding students have a definite fear that young people don't have and its based on some very firm realities. Children on ponies are closer to the ground and their bones heal faster.

I can't find anything but the cursory notes I wrote during the speech but I seem to remember that the speaker said neither one was better than the other but they induce different types of behavior.

So if you're bemoaning the fact you're not as creative as you want to be, you may want to consider changing your goals in certain situations - certainly not all! Risk minimizing is a good goal to have in several situations.

I myself took it when the lights went out in New York a few days ago. :)

09-18-2003, 05:20 AM
Thanks very much...

I am probably not a risk minimizer... and that was the way I ended up jobless...

I recently met a job agency. One question of the guy was "How do you handle your creativity", my answer was "I practice painting as a hobby" and his next question was "what about security?"...

Conclusion: probably not a good idea to put any creative hobby in case you're looking for a job with any relation to security!

Well thank you very much, you helped me a lot, it gives me a new perspective on my job search!

Have a nice day,


09-18-2003, 11:08 AM
Hi Anne.

I'm glad you're sharing your job hunting experiences. A lot of people are going through similar situations.

I don't understand the question about security. I mean what does that have to do with your painting as a hobby?

Maybe he wanted to see how you deal with issues of creativity and security which then means he's really on the ball. And he's someone who can help you a lot.

09-18-2003, 11:24 AM
Thanks for your kind answer. You're perfectly rigth, this guy is good. His agency is fond of psychology (and has high ethical value). But until I read this thread, I did not realize that he connected security and creativity . He actually used these words, and it could make sense in the conversation - I am not sure he asked one question rigth after the other, but I'm sure he asked both.

But anyway WC is strengthening my creativity! Maybe I am a bit too addicted...

Have a creative day,


01-07-2007, 10:04 AM
I'm a risk minimizer... IRL.

01-08-2007, 03:01 AM
As a young girl I would risk anything and everything without much thought. As I grew older, and wiser I learned that some risks just are not worth taking. And when I had children many risks were just simply out of the question. Today, I would not risk my home, my health, or the well being of loved ones for anything unless of course I risk self, for the well being of loved ones.

Now, apart from that I don't hesitate to take a risk. With my art I am willing to try anything, any medium style that feels pleasing to me. I guess I dont' mind taking risks that result in a loss unless its a loss I know I could not recover from. All the others, well they are the ones that make life more interesting. Perhaps I would call myself a common sense risk taker.

01-08-2007, 09:00 AM
I like what Chiers said about being a common sense risk taker :) Getting married and leaving my homeland was a calculated risk, as was moving to several states for various jobs. I am willing to take big risks artwise. I wouldn't when it comes to physical activities like bungee dumping or snorkeling near sharks. so in general I would say risk taker.

01-08-2007, 05:52 PM
Ah , sometimes, one just has got to say... what the hell !
paraphrased from movie - Risky Business

01-08-2007, 07:42 PM
I'm a risk minimizer... IRL.
Well that is something we have in common.

01-08-2007, 09:54 PM
Sometimes I take risks, and sometimes I don't. The risks I do take tend to be big risks. Little risks aren't usually worth the trouble... and if it don't get you into trouble, it ain't a risk.