I never got to meet my wife's father, but I have come to know him through the stories I've heard through the years and besides being a “guy's guy”, he was an inventor. My mother-in-law would sometimes cringe when he went back down to the basement because that meant he was designing or building another new invention.
When he died in 1979, he still owned several patents and was drawing up plans of a house that would be run completely by a windmill in the backyard. He was a true American Wildcatter when it came to thinking and acting upon his beliefs.
Well, he used to carry this piece of paper in his pocket every day that we just found in an old box as we're downsizing; another way of saying: “getting rid of a lot of old stuff.”
The paper was pretty worn since he had carried it every day from the early 50's on, but this is it and I think it's a unique way to look at risk and the men and women who helped shape this country after World War II.
Please excuse any license I may have taken where I couldn't read a sentence or two.
The Risk – Takers
Have you ever given much thought to the idea that the spoils in life go to the risk-takers? If you analyze it objectively, I think you'll come up with the same conclusion I arrived at.
A recent survey indicated that over 90% of men in this country are looking for job security. That is that they're primarily interested in losing themselves deep in the warm, nourishing viscera of some large corporation; which is fine. I'm not knocking it. I'm just commenting on it. But these are not by their nature risk-takers. And while they can have wonderful successful careers, the odds are against them hitting a big payday or jackpot and in today's corporate environment, they are always at risk.
You see as a rule this sort of career does not encourage or reward a man to do much more than get by. And he will usually spend his free time (which is typically 72 hours a week) in pursuits that are not calculated to help him get ahead.
The man who risks his spare time writing a book, painting a picture, creating a new technology or invention or continuing his education, is generally the one who will advance above his fellow man.
But the man who risks all his time on a dream in his soul, who stakes his livelihood and the livelihood of his family on his own belief and single handedly tackles his goal, that is the person to whom the spoils are realized.
I'm not referring to the random dreamer or stargazer. I'm talking about a man of action who puts it all out there. He risks everything. Sure, he may be laughed at by his so-called friends behind his back and he may fail more than anyone he knows, but that's because he never looks at it as a failure. It's a lesson he can learn from that makes him smarter and stronger. It prepares him for the success that is truly in his future.
One of the biggest things in his favor is the size of the group to which he belongs. According to the most reliable figures I can find, he belongs to only about 2% of the population. And since he is working on a project that in some way will serve the other 98% of the population, the odds are swinging rather substantially in his favor.
Additionally, any man or woman on their own, must devote a good part of their days to thinking and creating. Conversely, the man or woman who has a nice comfortable job and is familiar with his duties and surroundings, can go a long way without any risk or creative thinking. As human beings, our tendency is to do no more than is required of us and in many cases, not even that much.
Now anyone who spends a good deal of their time to thinking, is going to come up with a good idea from time to time. The law of averages is in his or her favor. If you think about it, how many great ideas does he really need? One may be more than enough if he believes in it.
Now if you really analyze it, the more it becomes apparent that what appears to be the risk-taker isn't taking as much of a risk as you might imagine. From several perspectives, the odds are stacked in the risk-taker's favor. There's very little competition and there is so many things to be created, invented or improved upon.
You see, life is full of hidden contradictions. One is that the person who thinks he's playing it safe, really isn't. And the man who seems to be taking the greatest risk, considering the law of averages, is playing it the safest!
Something to think about, huh?