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Have you ever taken a huge risk that didn’t work out?


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 210,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Have you ever taken a huge risk that didn’t work out?

  • Yes, I’ve made a huge bet and it was a big disaster: 70%
  • No, whenever I’ve taken such risks, they’ve always worked out: 17%
  • No, I’ve never made a big bet: 13%

Can you handle the fallout? A very large proportion of you have taken a large and disastrous risk. The issue isn’t the risk itself, but the consequences. If things ended up being disastrous, was it because you weren’t prepared for the fallout from the decision? Before embarking on a major risky venture, spend time constructing the truly worst-case scenario. Too many times I see people construct “worst” scenarios that are only minor setbacks. You have to plan for everything going wrong. Assess that perfect storm of bad outcomes and assume everything goes wrong. Ask yourself if you can handle the negative outcome of that perfect storm. If the answer is “no,” then reconsider taking the risk in the first place. 

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS and the host of the upcoming Executive Insight 16 — a leadership conference being held in New York this November.