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Calculated Risk vs. Fear-Based Decisions – Part 1

By Don Gentry


A Man, His Daughter, & A Horse

My daughter was seven years old and we were at a friend’s house on vacation. They had two horses that were great with kids and we were excited about taking our children horseback riding.

Moments into mounting the horse, the horse began to buck violently. I was holding on to my daughter while we were being tossed too and fro while hearing the owner say his horse has never responded this way.

When I heard him say this, I knew that the saddle was not on correctly because I could feel it slipping beneath me. (I have ridden horses for several years, and while I am not a professional I am certainly not a novice.)

I came to the realization that this horse was not going to settle down. I then intentionally allowed my daughter and I to be thrown from the horse. While in mid-air I tried to throw my daughter away from the horse as safely as possible.

Unfortunately, I threw my daughter too far and she hit the fence and had the wind severely knocked out of her. She was safe from the horse’s hooves crushing her, but not the sudden stop that the fence provided. In the hysterics of those around, I quickly picked myself up and I begin to calmly speak to my daughter.

I was able to get her to calm down and to focus on breathing and not being afraid. My actions quickly calmed the fear, not only in her, but also in those around. After several long, tense minutes, breath and color returned to my daughter. She was able to stand up, I was able to go through the proper checks to see if she was ok.

The Risks & Rewards

Notice that I had made several calculated risks at this point. I am an experienced horseman, I have training and experience in crisis moments, I have first aid response readiness, etc, which allowed me to take these calculated risks.

At this point we had a choice to make: do we continue to ride or not.

Many people, especially fear driven decision makers, would have opted to discontinue the day of fun, but I knew that there was something far more at stake in the life of my children. At this point fears had mounted in all three of my girls and my wife and our friends.

Was I going to teach my children to overcome fear or give into fear? I knew a greater life lesson was at stake and was I willing to fight the battle.

The battle that was to ensue was a battle that we each must face at various levels whether we are a parent or not.

Take a moment and consider a recent challenge or issue you’ve had to deal with, and ask yourself these questions:

Do I make decisions based upon fear and perceived safety?

or

Do I take a calculated risk and teach myself, my children and others around me how to overcome obstacles and personal fear?


Don’t miss Part 2 where we’ll look at the practical application of taking calculated risks.

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