Know the Risks


If the Red River in Coushatta, Louisiana could talk, I’m sure it could recount a million conversations I’ve had with Dad. Most of our significant conversations happened on a boat with a fishing rod in each of our hands. That’s just the way we rolled.

With the sound of fishing line going through a reel, I asked, “When you went to Vietnam, were you afraid?”

With his foot navigating the trolling motor he said, “Yes. Yes, I was afraid. But I knew the cost.”

The phrase hit me oddly, so I followed up.

“What do you mean you knew the cost?” I asked.

“Son, before anyone enlists in the military they have to make a choice. Are they willing to pay the price? Let’s face it, the reason America has a military is to win wars. Others will tell you it’s to keep the peace and so on, but really the military is there to win wars.”

“Gotcha. I’m tracking,” I said.

He continued, “If you know that, and it’s pretty obvious, then you must decide if you’re willing to take the risk…the risk that you could die. Yes, the military provides pay, housing, medical and great benefits. But there’s a big risk for all of that. You must be comfortable with that risk before you sign the dotted line and commit your life. Yes, I was afraid, but I also knew the risk and was willing to take it.”

That’s a conversation I’ll never forget and it’s one all leaders should note: know the risks.

Before agreeing to a merger or launching a new product line, ask yourself if you have considered all the changes. Do you have a list of the risks or are you so blinded by opportunity that you can’t see the true price that you will have to pay?

For example: you’re considering expanding your team–that’s a good thing! However, before pulling the trigger, make sure you have done the proper analysis. You know…done your homework.

What’s the cost?
What are the benefits?
How will the personalities interact with one another?
Does everyone know their individual roles?
Is there enough work to keep them busy?

The military is there to win wars. You’re in business to win and make a profit.

Perhaps you launched a non-profit and you want to make an impact. With that in mind, no matter your organization or dream, are you willing to pay the price?

Be like Dad…he signed the dotted line because he was comfortable with the risk.

Do that…and you’ll be a better leader.


– Brian Sanders