Mark Blasini


Risk and reward


In Western culture, there is a separation between risk and reward. One strives for the reward despite the risks. One strives to win that marathon despite the risk of exhaustion. One strives to climb the mountain despite the risk of death due to injury, climate, starvation. One strives to publish one's book despite the risk of no one wanting to buy it.

With this mindset, it is the commitment to achieving the reward that is seen as the primary reason for success. It's the commitment to getting to that finish line, reaching the top of that mountain, getting on that bestsellers list.

In Eastern culture, on the other hand, there is an important relationship between risk and reward. As Sun Tzu tells us, "One who does not fully know the dangers of using the army cannot fully know the advantages of using the army."

In other words, risk and reward, danger and advantage, are inversely related. It is by calculating and managing or eliminating the risks that one actually reaps the reward.

It is by running daily, working one's way up to running multiple marathons in practice, understanding the dangers involved and mitigating these dangers, that one actually is able to get to the end of the marathon.

It is by imagining and predicting all the potential disasters of climbing a mountain, studying all that one can of the territory and what has stopped people before, and creating a plan that deals with those potential disasters, that one actually has a much greater chance of making it to the top.

It is by understanding one's market intimately, garnering enough committed interest in one's book before one publishes, that one actually creates a bestselling book.

With this mindset, the commitment to achieving the reward isn't the primary reason for success. Rather, it's the commitment to creating a strong plan. Such a plan must be guided by the risks and dangers you may face on your journey to success.

Like I've said before, the idea behind good planning is not to achieve success, but to make success feasible. Once it's feasible, then all that's required is the commitment to make success happen.