The Danger of Love

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness...The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.  

CS Lewis, The Four Loves

"I’m just going to go for it, because why not?"

A few weeks ago a North Dakota plumber lined up to run in his first half-marathon. But Mike Kohler was sleepy. He wasn’t used to getting up so early. And he was wearing headphones. That may explain why he took off 15 minutes before he was supposed to do so—putting him with the runners who were competing in the full marathon. Soon he started seeing signs that indicated he was on the wrong route, but he shrugged off those warnings. Mike assumed the two paths overlapped part of the way.

Eventually, he realized his mistake—but kept going. At the 13 mile mark he seriously thought about quitting. He had run as far as he had planned to run and even beat his time goal. He had nothing more to prove.

Instead, he finished the marathon.  

“I’m just going to go for it, because why not?” Mike later told the Grand Forks Herald. “I’m already here, I’m already running, I’m already tired. Might as well try to finish it. He added, ”This just kind of proves you can do a lot more than what you think you can sometimes.”  

Empathy is always a risk

A few selfies in front of Tokyo Tower or the temples of Kyoto won’t be enough to understand the Japanese people. To understand them, you must be willing to live with them, eat their food, work alongside them.

This is one reason, perhaps, why the arrogant end up with few genuine friendships. How can you connect with someone when you think you know everything there is to know?

Empathy is always a risk. On one hand, we risk asking the wrong questions and, as a result, hurting or insulting someone. On the other hand, we risk creating a connection, an emotional two-way street we cannot close, that forces us to feel someone else’s pain and suffering.

Charles Chu writing in Medium 

Risk aversion kills innovation

The secret killer of innovation is shame. You can't measure it, but it is there. Every time someone holds back on a new idea, fails to give their manager must needed feedback, and is afraid to speak up in front of a client you can be sure that shame played a part. That deep fear we all have of being wrong, of being belittled and of feeling less than, is what stops us taking the very risks required to move our companies forward.

If you want a culture of creativity and innovation, where sensible risks are embraced on both a market and individual level, start by developing the ability of managers to cultivate an openness to vulnerability in their teams. And this, paradoxically perhaps, requires first that they are vulnerable themselves.

This notion that the leader needs to be “in charge” and to “know all the answers” is both dated and destructive. Its impact on others I the sense that they know less, and that they are less than. A recipe for risk aversion if ever I have heard it. Shame becomes fear. Fear leads to risk aversion . Risk aversion kills innovation.

Peter Sheaham

This is daring greatly

When we spend our lives waiting until we're perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make.

We must walk into the arena, whatever it may be—a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation—with courage and a willingness to engage. Rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgment and advice, we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen.  This is vulnerability. This is daring greatly.

Brené Brown, Daring Greatly

Risk aversion kills innovation

The secret killer of innovation is shame. You can't measure it, but it is there. Every time someone holds back on a new idea, fails to give their manager must needed feedback, and is afraid to speak up in front of a client you can be sure that shame played a part. That deep fear we all have of being wrong, of being belittled and of feeling less than, is what stops us taking the very risks required to move our companies forward.

If you want a culture of creativity and innovation, where sensible risks are embraced on both a market and individual level, start by developing the ability of managers to cultivate an openness to vulnerability in their teams. And this, paradoxically perhaps, requires first that they are vulnerable themselves.

This notion that the leader needs to be “in charge” and to “know all the answers” is both dated and destructive. Its impact on others I the sense that they know less, and that they are less than. A recipe for risk aversion if ever I have heard it. Shame becomes fear. Fear leads to risk aversion . Risk aversion kills innovation.

Peter Sheaham

Driving in a Snowstorm to see a Game

Two avid sports fans plan to travel 40 miles to see a basketball game. One of them paid for his ticket: the other was on his way to purchase a ticket when he got one free from a friend. A blizzard is announced for the night of the game. Which of the two ticket holders is more likely to brave the blizzard to see the game?

The answer is immediate: we know that the fan who paid for his ticket is more likely to drive. Mental accounting provides the explanation. We assume that both fans set up an account for the game they hoped to see. Missing the game will close the accounts with a negative balance. Regardless of how they came by their ticket, both will be disappointed – but the closing balance is distinctly more negative for the one who bought a ticket and is now out of pocket as well as deprived of the game. Because staying home is worse for this individual, he is more motivated to see the game and therefore more likely to make the attempt to drive into a blizzard.

The emotions that people attach to the state of their mental accounts are not acknowledged in standard economic theory. An Econ would realize that the ticket has already been paid for and cannot be returned. Its cost is “sunk” and the Econ would not care whether he had bought the ticket to the game or got it from a friend (if Econs have friends). To implement this rational behavior, (the fan) would have to be aware of the counterfactual possibility. “Would I still drive into this snowstorm if I had gotten the ticket free from a friend?” It takes an active disciplined mind to raise such a difficult question.

Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman

Getting closer to the truth

Most of us view the world as more benign than it really is, our own attributes as more favorable than they truly are, and the goals we adopt as more achievable than they are likely to be. We also tend to exaggerate our ability to forecast the future, which fosters optimistic overconfidence. In terms of its consequences for decisions, the optimistic bias may well be the most significant of the cognitive biases. Because optimistic bias can be both a blessing and a risk, you should be both happy and wary if you are temperamentally optimistic.

Optimism is normal, but some fortunate people are more optimistic than the rest of us. If you are genetically endowed with an optimistic bias, you hardly need to be told that you are a lucky person -- you already feel fortunate.

An optimistic attitude is largely inherited, and it is part of a general disposition for well-being, which may also include a preference for seeing the bright side of everything. If you were allowed one wish for your child, seriously consider wishing him or her optimism. Optimists are normally cheerful and happy, and therefore popular; they are resilient in adapting to failures and hardships, their chances of clinical depression are reduced, their immune system is stronger, they take better care of their health, they feel healthier than others and are in fact likely to live longer.

Of course, the blessings of optimism are offered only to individuals who are only mildly biased and who are able to “accentuate the positive” without losing track of reality.

Optimistic people play a disproportionate role in shaping our lives. Their decisions make a difference; they are inventors, entrepreneurs, political and military leaders -- not average people. They got to where they are by seeking challenges and taking risks. They are talented and they have been lucky, almost certainly luckier than they acknowledge. Their self-confidence is reinforced by the admiration of others. This reasoning leads to a hypothesis: the people who have the greatest influence on the lives of others are likely to be optimistic and overconfident, and to take more risks than they realize.

Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow

Our Willingness to Risk

People with a phobia about being struck by lightning place such a heavy weight on the consequences of that outcome that they tremble even though they know that the odds on being hit are tiny.

Gut rules the measurement. Ask passengers in an airplane during turbulent flying conditions whether each of them has an equal degree of anxiety. Most people know full well that flying in an airplane is far safer than driving in an automobile, but some passengers will keep the flight attendants busy while others will snooze happily regardless of the weather.

And that's a good thing. If everyone valued every risk in precisely the same way, many risky opportunities would be passed up. Venturesome people place high utility on the small probably of huge gains and low utility on the larger probability of loss. Others place little utility on the probably of gain because of their paramount goal is to preserver their capital. Where one sees sunshine, the other sees a thunderstorm. Without the venturesome, the world would turn a lot more slowly. Think of what life would be like if everyone were phobic about lightning, flying in airplanes, or investing in star-up companies. We are indeed fortunate that human beings differ in their appetite for risk.

Peter Bernstein, Against the Gods

We are Loved!

We’ve heard a thousand times that God loves us. But one day the meaning hit us. WE ARE LOVED. Really loved! Not just for what we can do, or what we have, tor what we have to offer. Not out of pity or obligation.

People love like that. They love what they think we are. We all know that about each other. We play games to keep it that way.

We try to always show the side of ourselves that we think people love us for. And we have learned form harsh experience that if we don’t, we lose! (People can change their minds about loving us.)

Sometimes we play our games very well. Sometimes we fool everyone except ourselves, and deep inside we say, “You love me… But if you really knew, you wouldn’t.”

I think some of us have a hard time even liking ourselves. We think we don’t have enough to offer, and that makes it hard to love anyone else! Giving is then conditional, tentative. There is a wall of protection… that tough shell of “I’m not going to let you hurt me.”

We all know folks who aren’t very easy to work with because they don’t feel loved. They’re defensive and wary, often depressed and pessimistic.

But if we could all really see that God – the perfect, great omnipotent creator and orginal cause of the whole universe – really, loves us.. that “the One who knows us best, loves us most,” it would change our lives! God, whom we have wronged the most, loves us - and has found a way to come to where we are… and forgive us! No person, no power, no circumstance, no situation,, no station in life, nobody’s opinion – nothing- can ever make us fell unloved again. We are of value. WE have been redeemed. We are totally, unreservedly, forever LOVED!

We can dare to love back! We can risk hurt or rejection. We can try again, and even if we fail, we can win. We are loved by the only person whose opinion ultimately matters. We can LOVE. We can love even those who haven’t “earned” it. Even those who reject it. Even those who don’t need it. (Who’s that?!) We are loved!

Bill Gaither, songwriter

Risk Management

When we say that someone has fallen on bad luck, we relieve that person of any responsibility for what has happened. When we say that someone has had good luck, we deny that person credit for the effort that might have led to the happy outcome. But how sure can we be? Was it fate or choice that decided the outcome?

Until we can distinguish between an event that is truly random and an event that is the result of cause and effect, we will never know whether what we see is what we’ll get, nor how we got what we got.

When we take a risk, we are betting on an outcome that will result from a decision we have made, though we do not know for certain what the outcome will be. The essence of risk management lies in maximizing the areas where we have some control over the outcome while minimizing the areas where we have absolutely no control over the outcome and the linkage between effect and cause is hidden from us.

Peter Bernstein, Against the Gods

The ideal self loves the spotlight?

The archetypal extrovert prefers actions to contemplation, risk-taking to heed-taking, certainty to doubt. He favors quick decisions, even at the risk of being wrong. She works well in teams and socializes in groups. We like to think that we value individuality, but all to often we admire one type of individual—the kind who’s comfortable “putting himself out there.” Sure, we allow technologically gifted loners who launch companies in garages to have any personality they please, but they are the exceptions, not the rule, and our tolerance extends mainly to those who get fabulously wealthy or hold the promise of doing so. Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality style, but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform.

Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking

the risk of independence

All life itself represents a risk, and the more lovingly we live our lives the more risks we take. Of the thousands, maybe even millions, of risks we can take in a lifetime the greatest is the risk of growing up. Growing up is the act of stepping from childhood into adulthood. Actually it is more of a fearful leap than a step, and it is a leap that many people never really take in their lifetimes. Though they may outwardly appear to be adults, even successful adults, perhaps the majority of “grown-ups” remain until their death psychological children who have never truly separated themselves from their parents and the power that their parents have over them.

M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

Normal Had Shifted

Regression to the mean is most slavishly followed on the stock market. Wall Street folklore is full of such catch phrases as “Buy low and sell high,” “You never get poor taking a profit.” All are variations on a simple theme: if you bet that today’s normality will extend indefinitely into the future, you will get rich sooner and face a smaller risk of going broke than if you run with the crowd. Yet many investors violate this advice or selling high. Impelled by greed and fear, they run with the crowd instead of thinking of themselves.

Since we never know exactly what is going to happen tomorrow, it is easier to assume that the future will resemble the present than to admit that it may bring some unknown change. A stock that has been going up for a while somehow seems a better buy than a stock that has been heading for the cellar. We assume that a rising price signifies that the company is flourishing and that a falling price signifies that the company is in trouble. Why stick your neck out?

Consider those investors who had the temerity to buy stocks in early 1930, right after the Great Crash, when prices had fallen about 50% from their previous highs. Prices proceeded to fall another 80% before they finally hit bottom in the fall of 1932. Of consider the cautious investors who sold out in early 1955, when the Down Jones Industries had finally regained their old 1929 highs and had tripled over the preceding six years. Just nine years later, prices were double both their 1929 and their 1955 highs. In both cases, the anticipated return to “normal” failed to take place: normal had shifted to a new location.

Peter Bernstein, Against the Gods

driven to obligation

When we are locked into imperative thinking, we hold our absolute conviction so tightly that we have little or no recognition of our choice to say no! Obligation becomes our driving force. Relationships with other people and our responsibilities to them then become matters of dread, resentment, guilt.

Our need for a structured, orderly life can be so powerful that we refuse to make allowances for choices. To us, circumstances are either black or white. Once we settle upon a conviction or preference, we feel rigidly obligated to abide by it, with little variation.

Imperative people are almost afraid to allow for the luxury of choices. We feel the need to minimize our risks by sticking to the rules that we have made for ourselves.

Les Carter, Imperative People: Those Who Must Be in Control

Was it fate or choice that decided the outcome?

When we say that someone has fallen on bad luck, we relieve that person of any reasonability for what has happened. When we say that someone has had good luck, we deny that person credit for the effort that might have led to the happy outcome. But how sure can we be? Was it fate or choice that decided the outcome?

Until we can distinguish between an event that is truly random and an event that is the result of cause and effect, we will never know whether what we see is what we’ll get, nor how we got what we got. When we take a risk, we are betting on an outcome that will result form a decision we have made, thought we do not know for certain what the outcome will be. The essence of risk management lies in maximizing the areas where we have some control over the outcome while minimizing the areas where we have absolutely no control over the outcome and the linkage between effect and cause is hidden from us.

Peter Bernstein, Against the Gods