Guest Post by Rochelle Royal

William Gurstelle is the Ballistics and Pyrotechnics Editor for Popular Mechanics magazine. Far from risk-averse, it’s his belief through years of research that a person’s inclination to risk-taking has a profound impact on their happiness and life satisfaction, a belief which ties closely with the question of whether you can make your own luck.

Science tells us that lucky people take advantage of chance encounters and opportunities more often than others. In other words, they are more prepared to take risks.

Researchers have even found that it is possible to quantify what kind of risk taker you are, much like an IQ score from 1 to 100. If you were to survey a group large enough you would typically find that most people are neither completely risk averse, (wary of even stepping out their front door) nor are they extreme dare-devils (such as Evel Knievel).

The average person lies right in the middle of these two extremes. Just to the right of this average is what William Gurstelle calls the “Golden Third”. He argues that “people who fall into this Golden Third, who are more willing to take risks and capitalise on opportunities, experience the highest index of life satisfaction and fulfilment”.

Golden Third - Risk
Image: William Gurstelle

Stepping into the Golden Third

There is a fine balance in staying in this golden third once you are in it. Tyler Tervooren, founder of Advanced Riskology, is committed to helping people take smarter risks and live better lives through uncertainty. Tyler has kindly offered some of his time for an interview, sharing his insight and advice, which will hopefully guide you through the process of adding a reasonable amount of risk to your everyday lives.

Tyler argues that “most people take risks because they don’t understand them”.

As with many things in life “we fear that which we don’t understand”. If you take a risk that doesn’t lead to the desired outcome and don’t understand why you didn’t succeed, you may be tempted to stop trying altogether.

“Unless you understand how to take smart risks, this will be most people’s experience with it”. Spend more time researching and understanding what you’re about to get into, and then find a way to “dip your toe in.” Validate your big risk by taking many smaller ones first.

“Smart risk-taking can become a habit, just like anything else can. By repeating the steps necessary to take a smart risk—research, plan, test, evaluate, etc.—you can ingrain that workflow into your habits so that it will always inform the risks you take”.

The fear response to risk will likely endure. Tyler however, states that: “as humans, we will stagnate unless we consciously push ourselves”.

Knowing how to take smart risks and doing so regularly requires continuous discipline. It is a fundamental part of the human experience and the more you do it, the more comfortable it becomes: “Children learn to crawl before they walk. They walk before they run, and they run before they drive cars, fly aeroplanes, so on and so forth. At each step, there’s a fear barrier that has to be overcome”.  With the many strings of successes before “you learn something and adjust for the next one which, of course, makes it that much less scary to do”.

Advanced Riskology provides exceptional guidance on how to embrace the unknown while not advocating any action in particular. Tyler recommends that we improve the risks that we are already skilled in and address the ones that we struggle with, which are holding us back from the life that we want.

He highlights that “we tend not to notice that we’re good at something until we see others around us struggling with it.” Even small moves in this area of your life will be uncomfortable, but if anything else Tyler assures that it simply means that “you’re headed in the right direction”.

Remember there is a fine line to living in the “Golden Third” and straying into the reckless nature of many thrill seekers.  Janey Downshire of Teenagers Translated is a qualified counsellor, specialising in teenager development and emotional literacy and has the challenge of addressing the high risk taking tendencies of teenagers.

Sharing some advice on how to manage your risk-taking effectively, Janey submits that “people must reflect on their actions and assess the outcomes consciously. Without feedback on your actions you can become narcissistic and uncivilised. When the consequences of your actions bare no meaning to you, you can become destructive to the people around you.”

Furthermore, Lynsey Dixon, Head of Marketing at tombola, speaking on the subject of associated problems with The Golden Third and the ways in which individuals can seek help, said: “In the gaming industry it is important to remember that it is about enjoying the thrill of the game and not about gambling to make money. At tombola, we place huge emphasis on the overall experience. We take our responsibilities seriously and work with a number of organisations to offer support, help and guidance to those who need it and encourage sensible behaviour. It is crucial that individuals stay in control when taking risks, regardless of the situation”.

A crucial part of human development is keeping a conscious awareness of your actions. However, it is also essential to maintain a level of motivation, curiosity and desire to move forward to a better life.

Guest Author

Rochelle Royal has been writing professionally since 2006. She has a passion for writing and has contributed to a number of online publications on a broad range of topics. Her forte is real life, money matters and small business development.