by: Adrian Ballinger
Starting a business can sometimes feel like facing a mountain that seems impossible. But after summiting Mt. Everest seven times and skiing some of the tallest peaks on the planet, here are some of the essentials I’ve learned about managing risk effectively.
A successful result should outweigh the risk level. The adage, “No risk, no reward” is no excuse to act haphazardly. It’s based on the premise that you are pushing the envelope to where no one else will go — but also making sure you have a thoughtful plan of execution. It’s important that the chance for a successful outcome always outweighs the risk danger.
Teamwork makes the dream work. When climbing the highest peaks of the world, we can certainly expect to exhaust ourselves – both mentally and physically. As the exhaustion sets in, it’s the power of the team that keeps us safe and moving forward toward our goal. It’s important that we consult and check in with each other as frequently as possible.
The same goes in the business world. Choosing the right team and instilling them with the confidence to lead and make big decisions is crucial in reaching your goals.
Don’t cut corners. When managing risk, it’s very important that you’re trying your best to stick to the plan. By cutting corners to achieve your goal faster, you may expose yourself or your business to potential failure or harm. Try to think as conservatively as possible. Save the risky choices for when you really need them!
Own your decisions. Once you’ve made a choice that a certain course of action is worth taking the risk, own it — and fully commit. I have been in my fair share of dangerous situations in my career — avalanches, storms, you name it – These unplanned events have weakened my resources and left me emotionally drained. Sometimes they even made me question my decision. But if and when I make a choice to the goal in the onset, I honor that commitment in the heat of battle. You should too.
Be realistic. In 2011 on Mt. Everest, my team worked for weeks to establish itself at 23,500 feet, only two days away from the summit. But the winds weren’t matching our weather forecasts and were threatening to destroy tents and cause very dangerous conditions for our team. To get to this point, we had accepted significant risk, but our instinct told us that going any further would be irrational and risky. So we bailed and headed back to base. We definitely made the right choice.
The lesson here? It’s okay to back off, reassess conditions against your goals, and reconsider taking certain risks to achieve these goals.
The key lesson here is simple: If you’re afraid to take risks, you will prevent yourself from making valuable contributions as well as profitable business choices. On the mountain, indecisiveness and too much comfortability can be fatal. It’s the same inside the Boardroom.
Adrian Ballinger is a world class mountaineer, business leader, and professional speaker. As founder and head guide of the internationally acclaimed Alpenglow Expeditions, Adrian envisioned a more holistic climbing experience for his clients than the status quo.