Why Are We So Risk Averse?

risk-a·verse
adjective
  1. disinclined or reluctant to take risks.
     

I have become risk averse? It is due to age or circumstance? Does the unknown frighten me? Am I afraid of losing everything and living under a bridge? Yes, yes and yes. These are all real thoughts that have been swirling around my head.

As I have spent most of the past 8 1/2 years working for other people in Las Vegas I am beginning to go a little stir crazy. Being an entrepreneur is my nature. Taking chances is what I’ve done my whole life. I like working for myself, setting my own hours and wearing whatever I want on a daily basis.

But as I stare down the barrel of turning 50 in less than a year — and as a parent to a four-year old child — I am starting to doubt my natural abilities to keep taking chances.

I didn’t used to be this way. I turned down going to the University of Northern Iowa initially to work full-time at a grocery store and earn extra money. When I showed up a semester later I became the Sports Editor of the school newspaper on my first day.

I left Iowa for a job at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. It’s a university I had never even heard of until they called me for an interview.

After six years of working for the UMKC Kangaroos, and despite steady promotion, I bolted for a job with a minor league hockey team. This risk paid off handsomely when the television station I was working for part-time suddenly created a full-time job for me. And just like that I was a full-time sportscaster and producer.

How many guy’s dream jobs have I had? I’ve been a sports writer, a rock and roll disc jockey, worked in Division I athletics, worked in professional hockey, and been on television and radio talking sports for a living.

And I walked away from it all to start my own business. I tried my hand at promoting myself and making my own money. The first year was a real struggle. Then things took off. I was running three different high school coaches associations, their all-star games and clinics. I was raising tens of thousands of dollars to help deserving student-athletes get a college education. An opportunity to take over the bookstore of a small Catholic college presented itself and I took on that project. In less than 12 months I went from making $4,000 in a year to the biggest salary of my life.

Then the economy crashed and I lost most of my business. What did I do? Sold my house for a small profit, packed up my stuff and moved to Las Vegas. With no connections and a limited amount of money I went to dealing school and learned to be a poker dealer. Within three weeks I was a full-time dealer at a local’s casino. Eighteen months later I was the poker room manager. I parlayed that experience into higher profile poker gigs on the Las Vegas Strip.

My personal life, however, changed dramatically in 2014. I became the father of a baby boy with my ex-girlfriend. Suddenly I was responsible for another life. Not just responsible in trying to be a great father and teaching my son the ways of the world, but also taking on a majority share of the financial and insurance responsibilities for my child.

And this is where the risk aversion comes in. I have understood that no one in life has ever made any real money working for someone else. You can make enough to live. You might even make enough to live comfortably. The people that make the greatest money and have the most comfortable life, however, are the people that you are working for at your job. I often think of the difference between a worker and an employer by this old Chris Rock bit about Shaquille O’Neal playing for the Lakers, “Shaq is rich. The guy signing Shaq’s paycheck is wealthy.”

If it were just me, I would quit my job tomorrow and try my hand at making a better life for me and my son through my own endeavors. Insurance, however, is where they (I’m not sure who ‘they’ is, but there is a ‘they’) get you. I am convinced that the American government is against any kind of universal health plan because of it came into existence thousands of people would quit their jobs and go out on their own. The corporations who control the politicians could not afford to lose those thousands of workers since their is already a glut of jobs versus job seekers. So who would fill those jobs? Workers from other countries who come to America legally or illegally trying to make a better life.

Insurance is what handcuffs the American worker to a business.

I have explored the options of getting health insurance while working for yourself. The options are average. They are not great. Especially when you look at what you get for a very low cost through the buying power of a large corporation.

I have read great books on striking out on your own. I have read books on the power of positive thinking and mentally plotting your course until you will it to happen. I believe in these things.

Now if I can just push my beliefs to sack my fears.

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