The Sharpening Stone – The Four Propositions of Risk

Many of the decisions you make as a business leader carry a significant element of risk.  If you are too timid or risk avoidant, then you and your business will likely fall short of your potential.  But if you embrace risk too readily or recklessly, you could damage your business and maybe even destroy your life’s work. 


Look, there are no guarantees.  Even the best decision-making processes sometimes lead to failure.  And on the flip side, fools and daredevils sometimes get lucky. 


Every time you encounter risk, you are confronted with four distinct propositions. These four interact in a way that invites you to either embrace risk or to back away from it. They enter the picture, consciously or reflexively, whether you want them to or not.  And each comes with some bright and dark elements.  The challenge is to navigate the four propositions effectively.


The first proposition is about desire: “What would you like?”  It encompasses your wants and cravings.


The second proposition deals with opportunity— “What is available?” — and is about the circumstances and the options that can advance or thwart your desires.


The third proposition concerns power – “Can you make it happen?” Power is a person’s capacity to make a difference – to affect the world in some measurable way. But power corrupts, and we all have our blind spots, so you must be increasingly vigilant on this proposition as your career advances.


And the fourth proposition involves expectations – “What might result?” — the anticipated possible outcomes to your actions.


Again, these four propositions are always at play in every risk-based decision you can possibly face.  You cannot escape the influence of desire, opportunity, power, and expectations, which happen to form the acronym DOPE.  The key to consistently wise risk-taking is to confront the four propositions consciously, and in a healthy manner that places humility and selflessness over pride and self-interest. 


My friend David Ashcraft and I recently authored a book on this subject, titled What Was I Thinking? Many of you may know of David, as he is the senior pastor of LCBC Church, which for the past several years has ranked among the largest 25 churches in America according to Outreach Magazine. We wrote the book with church leaders in mind, but regardless of your spiritual beliefs or practices, the DOPE Model of Risk Initiative will help you deal more effectively with the risks you encounter in business and everyday life.  If you want to learn more about how you can use the DOPE Model to make better decisions, you can contact me at True Edge, or you can find our book on Amazon or with other major booksellers. 

What Was I Thinking?

How to Make Better Decisions So You Can Live and Lead with Confidence

A new book from LCBC Pastor David Ashcraft, and Rob Skacel of True Edge Performance Solutions.

Learn to embrace risk and to live your life to the fullest potential, in order to both run and finish the race with no regrets.

Download this free “What Was I Thinking” companion worksheet.

DOPE Model Application Guide book companion worksheet >

About the Author: Rob Skacel, Ph.D.

Rob is a licensed psychologist with senior executive experience. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Franklin & Marshall College, and Master’s and Doctoral degrees from Purdue University. Rob began his career in the field of clinical psychology, splitting his time between patient care and management responsibilities. Within a few years, he began the transition to business psychology specialization. He has since held senior leadership positions in sizeable for-profit and non-profit organizations, where his responsibilities focused on performance improvement and organizational development.

Rob founded True Edge Performance Solutions in 2000, and maintained it as a part-time venture for a number of years as he continued to accrue executive experience. By 2006, True Edge had grown to the point where it required Rob’s full-time attention. Over the years, Rob has provided services to dozens of leaders and their organizations, in a variety of industry sectors such as manufacturing, professional services, health care, agribusiness, construction, education, non-profit, and trade associations.

The Sharpening Stone

The Sharpening Stone is a series of short videos from True Edge designed to sharpen leaders and their organizations.

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