Positive Risk Exposure

earth from cupola

“Seize any opportunity, or anything that looks like an opportunity. They are rare, much rarer than you think. Remember that positive Black Swans have a necessary first step: you need to be exposed to them. Many people do not realize that they are getting a lucky break in life when they get it. If a big publisher (or a big art dealer or a movie executive or a hotshot banker or a big thinker) suggests an appointment, cancel everything you have planned: you may never see such a window open up again.”

Black Swan, Nassim Taleb

Expose yourself to positive risks.

A few months ago I was finishing up Black Swan which has a chapter on positive risk exposure. The gist is this: as much as a major catastrophe can happen, a lucky break may also occur, and you need to be there to catch every lucky break you can.

Whenever you are thinking of not going to that conference, meetup, or social outing coming up, think back to the idea of positive risks. The fewer positive risks you expose yourself to, the more lucky breaks you are bound to miss in your limited lifespan. Further, you should ask yourself: “am I in the right place to maximize my exposure to these risks?”, and I mean that in a geographic sense in addition to the social sense.

I think you can apply it to your specific career specialization, the vertical industry that you operate in, and finally your location. I don’t know for sure, but I would suspect that there are more positive black swan opportunities for executive coaches working in New York, than in rural North Dakota.

Actually, Taleb goes on to state this explicitly:

“This makes living in big cities invaluable because you increase the odds of serendipitous encounters - you gain exposure to the envelope of serendipity.”

Written on February 18, 2017