Risk vs. Fear

Risk is the potential for something to go differently from what you’ve planned. Risk can be calculated statistically.

Fear is an unpleasant emotion associated with people, things, or events which we believe may cause us injury, pain, or embarrassment. Fear is our body keeping us safe.

Unfortunately, fear has a tendency to raise the alarm at generally inconsequential and harmless circumstances which have triggers. In other words, fear is a lot like the TSA.

A favorite example of the difference between the two is our unrealistically strong fear of sharks. The latest data I can find counts 61 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks in 2015. Only 6 of these were fatal,  putting your chances of death by shark at 1 in 264 million.

Compare this to an average of 12 deaths for high school and college football players each year.

Over 30,000 motor vehicle fatalities were reported in 2013, putting your chances of death by vehicle at 1 in 10,000.

That’s worth repeating. You are twenty six thousand times more likely to die from a car than from a shark attack.

And yet, even knowing that fact, the next time you swim in the ocean you’ll still think about sharks.

Nail your fear to the wall so that you can step back and look at it. By defining the risk associated with a fear, you can make better decisions.

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