By Steve Moran

If we are honest . . .

Life and business are massive, imperfect, messy, continuous experiments.

Some of us work hard to limit risk by mostly doing the same thing over and over again. Others (like me) have a pretty high tolerance for risk and are constantly trying new things. There are not necessarily right ways of doing this but there are 4 truths:

  1. When risk tolerance is too high, bad things can and do happen. Think about various addictions or the Game Stop stock trading fiasco.
  2. When risk tolerance is too low, bad things can happen – although most of the time in much slower motion. Kodak and PalmPilot are examples of being unwilling to take enough risks.
  3. Reasonable risk-taking is more likely to provide the highest quality life and greatest financial success.
  4. The more success you have, the harder it is to take future risks. While true, it is confounding because a billionaire taking big risks would be nuts. But having early success and not willing to evolve can be the kiss of death.

Risk-Taking Strategies

Most successful risk-takers have developed a set of strategies that allow them to have remarkable success and happiness. Here are mine:

  1. Know in advance that not everything will work – And know that everything is a learning experience. This makes it a lot easier not to double down on a bad idea.
  2. Know that some of your ideas are dumb – I am an idea factory, maybe 5 or 10 a week. They fall into 4 categories: 1. Good ideas, we can and should do. 2. Good ideas for someone but not us. 3. Hairbrained, dumb ideas – I/we end up just laughing about. 4. Bad ideas – these can be turned into good ideas sometimes. 
  3. Start before you have everything figured out – Some experiments require more planning, budgeting, more thinking, than others. But too much planning and thinking will put you in the position of finding all the reasons why you should not take on a project.
  4. Assume every experiment will need major course corrections – There is nothing that we have done at Senior Living Foresight that has not gone through major and minor tweaking. For instance, in the nearly 10 years we have been around, we have done at least 5 major website revisions and “too many to count” smaller ones.
  5. Start small, or at least smallish – You have to invest enough time and resources to give an idea a fair chance of success. But not so much that, if it doesn’t work, you will put your enterprise in jeopardy. Today at Senior Living Foresight we can spend more money on experiments than we could in the early days because we have more resources to work with.
  6. Celebrate failures and enjoy successes – I love telling stories of failures, in some way more than telling success stories because failures become teachable moments, and success stories sound like bragging. 
  7. Don’t let others kill your dream, but . . . – I have tried and succeeded at too many things that others thought were dumb or impossible that I am a skeptic with naysayers. Here is the “but” – I have had people approach me with ideas, some of which were good but needed substantial revamping. Or, in a few cases, they were simply bad ideas. You need to talk to other people about your idea and listen to what they think. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with them or do what they say. But pay attention to their thinking.

Risk-Taking in Senior Living

Coming out of the pandemic, we will see some senior living organizations soar like eagles. That’s because they are taking thoughtful risks, and doing things in new and better ways that will serve residents, teams, and the marketplace community amazingly.

We will also see organizations double down on doing things the same old way. They will struggle or fail. Those at the biggest risk are the ones that have created the most systems that reinforce the old ways. Those that succeed will be the ones that either don’t have a deep investment in the old way of doing things OR are willing to abandon those old ways in favor of success.

What is your risk-taking quotient?

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