Clarifying Your Perception of Risk: An Exercise

Vague undefined fears negatively affect our decisions and actions. This is a way to make the fear less vague.

  1. On a 3×5 card, write down the worst possible thing that can happen. Possible, not imaginable. You can imagine all kinds of evil and mayhem, but is it really possible?
  2. On another card, write down the best possible thing that could happen. Feel free to stretch possible a bit.
  3. On a third card, write down the most likely outcome.
  4. Lay the worst card on the left corner of the table in front of you and the best card on the right corner. Put the likely card between them, more or less where you think it falls on the continuum.

You will notice three things:

  1. You can live with the worst case scenario
  2. The likely case is pretty close to the best case
  3. You’ve overestimated the worst case and underestimated the best case

Humans are risk averse. When you’re walking down a dark alley at night, that’s helpful. When you’re trying to be generous, it’s not. Trust is complex, but the short path to it is by giving first.