Risk and Rising Water

I was sound asleep. It was a dreary Sunday morning and I was suddenly awakened by an insistent honking sound outside my bedroom window. My husband ventured downstairs to see what the ruckus was about. It was the fire department engaged in their urgent mission to rouse and evacuate our neighborhood. A flood was coming.

Although it had been raining for a week it hadn’t occurred to me that we were in any danger. Apparently I was wrong. Suddenly we were told to gather our important belongings and head for higher ground.

There I stood with sleep in my eyes, my jaw on the floor and a rising wave of panic I knew better than to give in to. I needed to think clearly –what do I do first? Fortunately, my children are grown and living elsewhere so my thoughts turned immediately to what else was most valuable to me.

I backed up my computer (of course), grabbed the family photos, and my favorite clothes and threw them into the back of our truck. As I frantically scurried around my home of twenty years gathering what else I had room for, I was heart sick at the idea of what I might lose, and simultaneously, a bit horrified at how attached I was to my material possessions.

Within about an hour, I gave my house a final hug and we drove out of the driveway and off to friends that lived in a safe part of town. The next dilemma, what route should we take? Already roads were closed. Bridges washed out. We were listening to the radio, and asking any local officials we could find for any information that might shed light on the ever-increasing danger our town was facing. We couldn’t get a clear and consistent message from anyone. There was chaos everywhere.

As we made our way across town it suddenly occurred to me that my sense of safety was being washed away like the floodwaters. All that I thought made me feel safe was an illusion. And, I guess it makes sense – it takes becoming vulnerable within a life-threatening event to be reminded of that.  As cliché as it may sound, life is a risk and there are events both natural and man-made that can threaten our existence at any moment.

What does it mean for you to live with risk?

As entrepreneurs, whether we like it or not, taking risks goes with the territory. Every day there are large and small decisions to make. You need to decide everything from the best business hours to be open to whether to spend major money on an unproven new marketing mailer. Most of the risks you take as a business owner have by definition, uncertain outcomes.

So, how comfortable are you with risk? Where do you look to find a true sense of safety and security within the many illusions our culture, business and personal, creates for us?

You look to your previous experience, data, research and trends to make calculated risk decisions, but ultimately, you look inside your self. You look to the foundations and principles you live your life from. Are you relationships strong and healthy, are your values intact? Does your word mean anything?

Because when it’s all said and done, you only have yourself. Fortunately, our home was spared the devastating flood that hit Keene, NH in October 2005. The overflowing brook that typically meanders through this side of town overflowed its banks damaging many homes as near as one block away.

The rushing water may have washed away some of the illusion that lulls me into a false sense of security, but the raging passion of the natural world reminded me of what’s truly important as I forge ahead growing my business and living the very best life I can.

It’s YOUR life…imagine the possibilities!

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