Why you are wired for inaction!

Why you are wired for inaction!


I’ve come across lots of fabulous research about the psychology of risk-taking over the last two years as I was writing Stop Playing Safe. As I shared in the interview above, we human beings are wired to be risk averse. In other words, we find it much easier to settle with the status quo, keep our mouths closed and our heads down rather than to make a change, take a chance or speak up and engage in what I call a “courageous conversation.”

When weighing up whether to do something that makes us vulnerable to failing, losing face or some other form or loss, we have an innate tendency to:

a) Over-estimate the probability of something going wrong

b) Exaggerate the consequences of what might happen if it does go wrong (what I call ‘catastrophizing’)

c) Under-estimate our ability to handle those consequences (and ladies, we are much more prone to this than the blokes), and

d) Discount or deny the cost of inaction, and sticking with the status quo (“Parmenides Fallacy” which I wrote about previously)

Needless to say, this helps to explain why so many people find themselves stuck in careers they don’t enjoy, in relationships that leave them hungry for love, and living lives they would never have chosen, much less have aspired to.

Hopefully not you though! 🙂

Anyway, the reason I share this is because I know that all of us, right throughout the course of our lives, need to continually sit with the question:

What would I do if I were being courageous?

Except this time, when you reflect on the answer, be mindful that you are wired toward caution and inaction.