Risk Tolerance and Achieving Goals

Risk Tolerance and Achieving Goals
Joe Burroughs

Joe Burroughs

Many people are frustrated by uncertainty and complexity in their jobs. I use Agile principles to provide clear and simple strategies so that you can win at work!

Everyone has a different tolerance level for risk. Individual risk tolerances also change based on the risk activity in question too. For example, you may SCUBA dive on vacation but still, maintain a low-risk investment portfolio.

How does risk tolerance affect my goals?

Great question! If you tend to avoid risks at work you may not be setting your goals high enough. In fact if you routinely achieve your goals and even surpass them, you are likely not taking enough risk at work.

Ideally, you should sometimes fail or fall short of your goals. I know this is counterintuitive, but if you always succeed you aren’t really achieving more than maintaining the status quo. You don’t get promoted for doing what’s expected, instead you get promoted for being innovative and moving the ball forward.

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Nobody cares who passes the ball the most in the NBA!

Fans, coaches, and owners care about who scores. If you are only moving things from your desk to someone else’s you may need to reevaluate your risk tolerance. Innovation comes with risk and failure. You fail, then learn, then fail again, and learn some more, but eventually you succeed. That success is worth the failures.

How can I change my risk tolerance?

Start small. Remember when you learned to ride a bike? You skinned your knee and maybe scuffed up your palms a bit but eventually you could ride around the neighborhood. That bike wasn’t about exercise as a kid, it was about freedom! You could ride to see your friends or to the ice cream parlor yes, I grew up in Mayberry.

To change your risk tolerance you have to have that vision, not of being able to ride a bike, but of freedom. Think about that report you update every week. Can you eliminate that? Can you automate that? Can you combine it with other data so that it actually matters? Can you scale that solution across dozens of reports like yours? Across multiple departments? The entire company? Now you’re talking!

Take a fresh look at your goals… you may need to aim higher!



Joe Burroughs

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2 thoughts on “Risk Tolerance and Achieving Goals”

  1. Wonderful article Joe!

    “You don’t get promoted for doing what’s expected, instead you get promoted for being innovative and moving the ball forward.”

    This was a great take away for anyone who has the fixed mindset “I should be promoted for doing my job”. It takes humility, a customer centric mindset, a growth mindset and servant leadership to go to the next level.

    I also think it’s important for folks to see the value in Risk to Reward. When taking a risk have a goal for what the return on investment is. Don’t solely make the reward me focused but customer / team / company focused. It should be win-win for everyone involved!

    1. Manoj,
      Thanks for the thoughtful comment! I agree that customer focus combined with an intelligent tolerance for risk is key to a culture of success in any organization.


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