Everyone has heard that successful people are risk takers. But it turns out that that's not entirely true. Certainly, successful people will be adventuresome and try things others may not, but for the most part they would not consider these great risks. Successful people grasp opportunities. And the difference between a risk and an opportunity is knowledge. Successful people see an opportunity but don't just dive in, they measure the risks involved. They then seek to minimize any negative consequences and maximise positive outcomes. They will plan and strategize to ensure there is a way to monitor progress and then put in place an exit strategy to minimize any consequences should they arise. To my mind, this Habit is misleadingly named.
When I refer to this Habit in my workshops I often name it "Seizing Opportunities". This shines a more useful and positive light on the habit and is how I think about it after working with it for many years. We don't want to teach our kids to be risk takers. We certainly want them to be adventuresome, to reach out, to try new things, but in order to be successful at these things we must first teach them to ensure they plan effectively, identify the risks involved, seek to reduce these and measure the potential costs against the possible rewards.
There is a powerful example of this Habit of Mind in the popular finance book "The Richest Man in Babylon" by George Clason. In one chapter of this classic book the author relates a story of "The Godess of Luck" and tells of several businessmen lamenting the fact that luck always seems to come to others and not to them. Upon exploring the situation, Clason reveals that men make their own luck by seizing opportunities when they arise. The point is clearly made that these men aren't reckless in seizing these opportunities, but rather they are men of action, who act upon careful consideration. Clason concludes that "to attract good luck to oneself it is necessary to take action". He could have just as easily concluded that to attract success to oneself it is necessary to take responsible risks"