Dennis Seeds: Risk is part of the territory; embrace it and watch what happens

They say that the best way to overcome your fears or phobias is to confront them. Not comfortable flying in an airplane? How about giving a public speech or walking across a high bridge?

Well, you’re not alone. Some surveys say about 20 percent of people 18 and over have anxiety problems that when you get right down to it, are irrational.

While some fear can be expected as a response to imminent danger, phobias are exaggerations of those reactions. They can be difficult to overcome, people avoid them like the plague — it’s the friend who always takes a train or bus to travel when an airplane would be much quicker.


Overcome through confrontation

What about if you could take a dry run on a small scale? It might help you as you weigh the risks of the entire process.

Sarah Clarke, manager of the Gateway Arch Bi-State Development Agency, which operates the tram to the top of the Arch, has some observations that can help shed light on the subject. After all, the Arch is a 630-foot monument, the top of which can only be reached via a five-seat tram that stops at an observation area crammed with visitors.

She says there is a car from the tram in the Arch’s lobby on the ground floor so visitors can and see what it is like and find out if they might feel claustrophobic.

“That allows people to get inside and try it out,” Clarke says. “Usually that helps, but some people at the last minute jump out before the doors are about to close. Most people who give it a try don’t feel that it’s too bad.”

So the smart visitor has a chance to test the personal space inside the tram — and decide if it’s time to confront his or her fear.


No dress rehearsal

While you don’t get a dress rehearsal with every business risk, there are some ways to prepare your company so it has a better chance for success.

One of the first steps to take is an analysis to see if the risk is a good fit for your company. For example, you wouldn’t want to expand your customer base without improving your production line first.

If you don’t get an outside opinion of your risk, you might be dooming your success. An unbiased look can analyze if the opportunity is a good one for business growth.

Mark Bamforth, CEO and president of Gallus BioPharmaceuticals LLC, can add his two cents here.

“You need to evaluate things and assess risks and potential, but you can’t wait until there’s no risk because if you do, the opportunity will have gone away.”

That is the definition of a calculated risk. With your opportunity, weigh the pros and cons of going forward — and of keeping the status quo. Don’t allow the fear of failure to quash your ambitions.


Dennis Seeds
Managing Editor

Smart Business St. Louis
Dennis is interested in the people and business making a difference in St. Louis.
[email protected]

(440) 250-7037