The world is a risky business. From taking basic steps such as writing paper with a voice to making friends in an unfamiliar environment, to more complex ones such as applying to college or investing in the stock market, risks need to be taken. That does not mean that these risks should be taken haphazardly or without deliberation. However, at the end of the day, courage is the only thing that leads to success. Money does not make the world go ‘round. Risks do. As Herodotus once said, “Great deeds are usually wrought at great risks.” Risks made history and they pave the future. Our country is founded on chances. From the very minute that the colonists decided to oppose England and eventually fight for their independence, despite the great odds, we as a people learned that dreams are never achieved by playing it safe. Whether riding out West in covered wagons or riding the rough seas to Ellis Island, our forefathers forged new paths with equal measures of courage and forethought that forever changed our history and made America what it is today. This fundamental drive runs through our blood and produces the enthusiasm for the adventure we have in our country. Whether one is a new immigrant or old, a sense of adventure is inherent in all Americans. It is this sense of adventure that leads to our success because risks and failures both lead to important lessons. Success simply never falls in one’s lap, nor can it be sustained in such a way. It must be strived for.
A global world and a global economy demands more risk-taking than before. Gone are the days that one can live in some small quiet corner of the world and be confident to inherit one’s family wealth or career path. Nothing is as certain anymore. Fortunes can easily be wiped away or gained at a moment’s notice if not for some foresight and some measure of risk-taking. We live in a time where foresight and risks are more important than ever. Populations are rapidly growing, and the job market is changing shape and growing tougher in some areas. Geopolitical alignments are shifting like sand.
There is a myth that women are not good risk-takers and that they are known to have more restraints. If there is any truth to this, perhaps the root cause of it is due to the way we have been nurtured and the opportunities that used to be available to us so far. Things are changing, however, as more women carve their ways into positions of power both in the technological and financial world.
Risk-taking not only separates people and makes them stand out, but great and otherwise unforeseen opportunities come from risk-taking. In addition, risk-taking boosts one’s confidence, even if sometimes path taken arrives at the door of failure. Apple is an elementary example. While today one may see a booming market with quite the expensive stocks (as the Goizueta students are more than aware of), this was not always the case. Apple was a flop. There is a story that in 1997, when Steve Jobs returned to Apple, Michael Dell had said he would shut down the company and give the money back to the shareholders if he were asked to run Apple. Nevertheless, Jobs had a vision and had overcome his fear of failure. He knew that success has to be pursued. Apple went from being a troubled company in decline to becoming one of the most valuable companies in the world by the time Jobs died in 2011. Many other companies that were very successful in 1997 no longer existed by 2011.
There are many women that still shy away from some of the STEM fields and the world of business and finance. Things are improving, but in many areas, the ratios are still intimidating. We need to all take a chance if we are going to change the world. The women bring with them a new perspective that lead to opportunities unforeseen to men. Whether coming up with Kevlar or
coffee filters, Stephanie Kwolek and Melitta Bentz had insights that were not visible to their male colleagues. Our generation is receiving a very different world. We need adventurous men and women who can boldly work side by side, share a new vision, and take new risks to mark a new millennium with greatness.