Most of you are familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:
You’ll notice that safety is near the foundation of the pyramid. This includes security of employment and resources. So it appears Maslow believed the need for safety included economic security. Once we achieve economic security we can more easily build friendships, families, and sexual intimacy after which we can build confidence and achievement, which propels us onward to self-actualization.
But here lies the paradox…
There is no economic security, except to the extent that we continue to provide increasing value to one another.
Our fear of losing our economic safety is what prevents us from taking risks and risk taking is what leads to economic growth which is the foundation for reaching the top of Maslow’s pyramid. Most of us don’t want wealth just to have wealth. We want the secure feeling we think wealth will give us. Once we have that feeling we believe we will spend our time doing things we love rather than worrying about money. But you’ll never get there unless you risk your economic security. You have to act in spite of your fear. It is an undeniable fact that you cannot increase the size of the economic pie without risk. To create more wealth, you must trade in your current habits and actions for ones that will be more productive, but since you can’t predict the future you can’t be sure your plan will work. This is one reason it is easier for you to take an entrepreneurial track younger in life. You generally have less to lose.
The need for economic security appears to be the only need in Maslow’s Hierarchy that is in direct conflict with reaching the next level. Fear of losing what we are prevents us from becoming what we want to be. Brave steps forward lead to growth; fearful clinging leads to atrophy.
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take – Wayne Getzky (HT to Lyman Reed)
Risk taking is not for everyone, and if you choose to take minimal economic risk you will likely have enough fish to eat, but accept that other people will always own the nets and the boat. However, if you choose to take larger risks you should calculate them carefully. You should know the worst case scenario, the most likely scenario, and the best case scenario. No matter the result, be willing to accept it without complaint because it will be your creation.
Let me leave you with something written 25 years ago by some smart teenagers.
Those people who tell you not to take chances
They are all missing on what life is about
You only live once so take hold of the chance
Don’t end up like others the same song and dance
– Metallica, 1982
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