Standing on a mountaintop in the High Desert of central Utah, I look at my guide and he asks if I am okay hammering to the bottom. I say “sure” and we sit down side by side in a UTV. In front of me is a little bar just above my knees about belly high. Some call these "Holy S!!!" bars. Before you know it, we are off!
We roar down the mountain on trails I'm not sure how or why were ever cut. To our left is a sheer drop, sometimes 20 or 30 yards, sometimes hundreds and hundreds. The guide smirks and says, “Don't worry. If we go over there are plenty of trees to catch us.” At first my grip is tight, a death grip, with anticipation and worry about what does “hammer down the mountain mean to the driver?” As we scream down, catching air and skidding around corners, I begin to enjoy it more and more, and my grip relaxes to a respectable firmness. Just enough to keep me in my seat, where I need to be.
We approached the mountain base after riding three miles of trails, between 40 and 60 miles an hour, with dust pluming up from my feet and in through the open sides. More dust and dirt than I could ever have imagined was caked on everything, everywhere. In this moment I realized how much I had enjoyed that ride. I felt alive. I was experiencing life. I also realized that safety, in and of itself, is not always the first or the best option for me.
I am not risk adverse. If I had hesitated, or told the guide I was uncomfortable, we would have reached the bottom all the same, but the experience wouldn’t have been as meaningful, exciting or memorable. The decision to take a measured risk was a better choice for me.
As I think about our business and the clients we serve, we often focus on the idea of managing risk. But what feels safe differs with each person and even with safety comes risk. Not making a choice is a choice too. Sometimes we need to be willing to explore our edges and to step outside of our comfort zone. We need to connect to our larger perspective, to take measured risks that bring growth, and to take time to visualize and live life the way we want to.
When we talk to clients about their finances and businesses, our conversation needs to continually focus on: What is important to you? What do you want to accomplish? How can we help you get there?
As we walk into a summer that will certainly include uncertainty, our focus is to continue to help drive clients towards fulfillment, to help them identify a level of risk that's fair and reasonable, to take their mind off of the worry and the doing, to find balance, and to help them make calm, clear and thoughtful decisions aimed at helping them achieve their life goals.
It became abundantly clear about halfway down the mountain that other folks I work with, or even my own family, would not accept the same amount of risk I did. And, some would have accepted more. At the end of the day, what’s most important isn't the amount of risk that we take, it's what we get out of taking that risk. It’s about what living a meaningful and fulfilling life looks like to us.
Provided by Mark Modzeleski, President, Legacy Wealth Advisors of NY