I tend to be somewhat of a non-traditionalist. I guess that is probably a reason I did so poorly in public schools. School was inefficient in my mind. When I saw the holes in the system, I tried to fill them by doing things differently. Rather than being grateful for showing them a new and better way, my teachers just flunked me instead. Oh well.
As a non-traditionalist, it is my job to feel aversion to the status-quo. Rather than jumping on the band-wagon, I can often be found lighting firecrackers under the feet of the horses pulling that wagon just to shake things up a bit. In other words, when the crowd goes one way, I can be found running the opposite.
How does that actually play out in my life? Well, I do not fund a traditional 401K. I do not work a 40 hour week. I do not drive a fancy car (though I can afford one), and I do not plan on retirement at age 65. Some (including my own wife) would call me a ‘Risk-Taker.’ I dislike that term. I would rather refer to mayself as a ‘Leap-Taker.’
I have done many things in my life that most would consider risky. I quit my steady teaching job with great benefits to be self-employed. I have no problem sinking over $100,000 into a new start-up venture. I purchased a new home last year after looking at a total of one house and before I had ever even put our current house on the market. I married my wife after a three-month engagement, and we decided to start our family when there was no way in hell we could pay for it. See, what most perceive as risky is, in my mind, just living life. In my view, following the traditional road like everyone else is the more dangerous (and even ‘riskier’) path.
How? Let me explain.
Most people believe that putting money away from each paycheck into a 401K or Keogh is safe. Hmmmm. I wonder if they still believe that after what has happened in the past few years. Most people believe that they should work hard all their lives so that they can retire at 65 and then enjoy the good-life. Unfortunately, there are not too many retirees who still have the health enough to even enjoy that ‘good-life” once it finally comes. Most people believe that working for yourself is ‘risky.’ Isn’t living every day of your life completely dependent upon a boss for your paycheck more so? The unemployment line is full of individuals who thought they had a ‘secure’ job. In other words, which lifestyle is more risky?
Does that mean that doing the exact opposite of the crowd is always the best course of action? Of course not. To do so would mean driving down the wrong side of the road would get you to your destination faster, and building a snowman in 20 degree weather without a coat would bring your body temperature up. There is a difference between bucking the system and stupidity… but it is usually a fine line. Furthermore, going in the opposite direction as the herd will not guarantee success. Remember the $100,000 I spoke about earlier. Yeah, I lost it all and a little more. Oops. On to the next thing.
So, how is avoiding risks actually more risky than taking them? By avoiding any risks, you also avoid living your life, and that is the most risky thing you can do. Let me repeat that. By not taking chances, you will never experience the incredible highs (and lows) that come from those decisions. Those ups and downs are what makes life worth living, man! As stated by Timothy Ferriss, “If we define risk as ‘the likelihood of an irreversible negative outcome,’ inaction is the greatest risk of all” (The 4-Hour Workweek, Expanded and Updated). Stop living life in a vacuum. Stop being a lemming! Open a business. Take that vacation. Tell your boss to stick it. Do something different. Take a
‘risk’ (ahem, ‘leap’) and start living your life!
Now, go create some value.
Dustin Harris is a multi-business owner, but he has found most of his success as a self-employed, residential real estate appraiser. He has been appraising for nearly two decades. He is the owner and President of Appraisal Precision and Consulting Group, Inc., and is a popular author, speaker and consultant. He owns and operates The Appraiser Coach (www.theappraisercoach.com) where he personally advises and mentors other appraisers helping them to also run successful appraisal companies and increase their net worth. He is also the Founder and President of Your Appraisal Office (www.yourappraisaloffice.com) which implements some of the systems he has developed to help lower costs and free up time for real estate business owners. He and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children.