Risk averse

Risk averse


If you missed your first chance to watch my short film, In the company of geniuses, I would encourage you to check it out. It’s been well-received. Here’s another chance…

YouTube: http://youtu.be/3iClXzj32xo?list=UUG_arS5C4wdc4c6KorfrCwg

“This short film (18 minutes +/-) is about famous people with a mental illness and how our schools, our teachers, our textbooks failed to mention the connection between their illness of bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia… and their groundbreaking achievements and breakthroughs to generations of American children that later created a false impression and a stigma for those diagnosed with a mental illness. Rather than appreciate the mentally ill or have empathy for them, too often there’s fear and hate for this misunderstood group…”



See attachment: Risk averse

September 6, 2015

Risk averse


Ted Burnett

True risk is only thing that forces spiritual and emotional growth so immediately, so dramatically… In the end, I know I won’t find it personally rewarding just to toe the line, stick to the formula. I’ve got to progress more as a person than as a personality.
– Sting, an English musician, singer-songwriter, activist, actor and philanthropist
(1951 – )

According to Wikipedia, risk aversion is the reluctance of a person to accept a bargain with an uncertain payoff rather than another bargain with a more certain, but possibly lower, expected payoff. For example, a risk-averse investor might choose to put his or her money into a bank account with a low but guaranteed interest rate, rather than into a stock that may have high expected returns, but also involves a chance of losing value.

As a child, I fell in love with the “American story” as expressed in my textbooks and taught by my teachers, from my summer vacations in the nation’s capital, as well as, from watching the political coverage on the evening news, for years and even decades. I believe that Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence is America’s spiritual foundation, not our constitution. Most of us have forgotten this point. We’ve forgotten what it says, what it’s about along with understanding the true risks that were undertaken, both, in its creation and for our founding fathers who signed their names to it for King George III to read.

Some form of this document has been adapted by ninety-six other countries and U.S. states. Did you know that? I think this speaks volumes. To create this kind of a reaction, there must be something very special about the ideas expressed in it. Our U.S. Constitution, which is over 200 years old, appears to have been written with eternity in mind. However, our political system of late has repeatedly suspended parts of it as to live for the moment in comfort, in safety and in security. As a result, our government and the two-party system are bankrupt in so many ways.

I’ve long had an interest in running for political office, in Washington. However, Catholic schools reminded me on almost a daily basis how silly of an idea this was. I assumed that a law degree would be my path to Washington. However, the door to law school was all, but shut and locked as I was starting my senior year of college. The idea has only re-emerged in my consciousness as I started writing these essays and growing my audience across the country and around the world over the past seven years.

The last time that I voted was, in 2004, for President George W. Bush. I was very disappointed with his tenure. I’ve said to myself that I wouldn’t vote again unless I knew the candidate, personally, such as myself. I’ve had enough of the shallowness of our politicians and our version of “democracy”. I’m tired of the arguing by this “do nothing” Congress. It’s time to move past the same old debates and get to the root of our country’s problems. Maybe these baby-boomers are simply incapable of growing up.

I’ve struggled to map out, in my own mind, a successful strategy for getting elected in my congressional district or statewide (Alabama), which is located in the sunny South and whose citizens are heavily Republican. A serious illness in my adult-life shook me to my core and has caused me to move away from the Republican Party and after 12 years of listening to conservative talk radio, I’m no longer a Rush Limbaugh fan. I’ve evolved into an independent, free-thinker who’s always questioning society, both, at the highest and lowest levels and everything in-between.

I no longer relate to or care to listen to conservative Republicans or liberal Democrats, but I may find myself voting alongside of them on a case by case basis. On financial matters, I support paying down the national debt and cutting the budgets of various departments, agencies and programs to achieve this goal while at the same time I support issues that promote personal freedom and responsibility.

This is way too easy to say, the hard part of it is working out the math to turn the theory into a practical reality. Both of the political party’s candidates and their elected officials seem all too happy to blindly shackle themselves to their party’s platform just to get access to the party’s money and support, to get elected and/or re-elected before they ever contemplate what the party really stands for. We need a conscious society and evolving people serving in public office.

Defined by Wikipedia, a party platform is a list of principles held by a political party. Rather than serve as a starting point for dialogue within the party and for working with the other party, these watered-down principles voted on and approved by some committee at the national convention, all but eliminate any search for the truth and/or the necessary risk that’s required to move pass these stated positions to uncover and solve this country’s growing problems, to face any unforeseen crisis and to chart a course back into navigable waters.

For many of us, our tolerance for risk has become low with time and prosperity. This hasn’t always been the case in history. The pilgrims thought life in the New World would be better than the constant persecution that they were feeling living under the rule of the king in the most developed country (England) in the world. In 1620, one hundred of them boarded a small wooden ship, the Mayflower, for America. By the end of the 1st winter, more than half of the settlers and crew would be dead – falling victim to, either, the cold weather, to disease, to starvation or from the hostile actions of Native Americans. How many of us are dissatisfied enough with Washington politics and the state of the union to consider leaving America for life elsewhere? (Our corporations are considering this – for tax reasons!)

During World War II, there were two types of Jews – those who saw the handwriting on the wall and fled Europe for America and those that stuck around and who were later told what train to board as it rolled towards a concentration camp. Might the term “American” or “Christian” be substituted for “Jew” in the near future? You can leave America for almost any country in the world, right now, where clothing, food, housing and utilities, transportation and even the internet are readily available for a reasonably-priced ticket that comes with an assigned seat aboard a commercial jetliner where you’ll arrive at your destination (and new homeland) within a few hours or by the next day. What 17th century pilgrim would have passed up this offer? Look at the risk being taken by Latino men, women and children as they flee their homeland in Central America and cross through Mexico to enter our southern boarder for a better life. Many become victims of assault, rape, robbery and murder for their effort.

Your decision to stay or to leave is based on your own unique situation and where you think the best opportunity lies going forward. For many of us, we still believe that the U.S. is safer, securer and more promising than any other country. Maybe that’s all we know. This may have once been a true statement, but it may no longer be. With America’s past prosperity, our tolerance for risk has diminished as we have more to lose.

When selecting friends and/or a new community to live in, too often we want those who appear to share our same heritage and values whether it’s a shared past, a similar academic background or profession, income bracket, similar religious or political views. It’s even more so when picking out a mate or partner for life (the other parent of our children), regardless of our above mentioned views. Our fears will dictate who we select. If our threshold for risk is low then we’ll pick someone with little faith for taking risks and who has a lot of fears. If our threshold for risk is high then we’ll pick someone with lots of courage, faith and few fears.

When it comes to selecting churches, schools, neighborhoods and politicians, our fears seem to be winning out. We want things to be as advertised with no adversity or surprises. We want low risk, low reward – where you’re guaranteed to become really bored with your life. That works fine when life and the world are “in order”, but it doesn’t work so well when things and systems are breaking down and we don’t know why or how to fix them. At this point, we need risk takers (high risk, high reward), change agents to come along and solve the problem(s), which the risk adverse can’t do because we lack the courage, honesty and/or experience needed to solve these big problems.

Few new politicians when announcing their candidacy for office take a high risk strategy when running their campaign. Rather than run as an independent, too often they choose to affiliate with one of the two major political parties and campaign on the respective party’s platform whether they believe in it or not to demonstrate to the base that they’re “the party’s man”. It’s a low risk, low reward approach that will surely result in someone getting elected to the office, but they’ve handcuff themselves to these fixed positions along with the party’s baggage. They become convinced that their supporters won’t allow them to evolve, to move away from these original positions as they get into office and come to better understand the real strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing our government and our society.

Repeatedly taking risk in one’s life leads to, both, personal and professional growth as human being, as elected officials that leads to sound government, which serves the needs of our society while allowing us to be a productive member in our global village. Today, that’s not happening at any level of government and we can see the consequences of it with the fighting and bankrupt governments.

Anyone who has taken their share of “risk” in their life in order to achieve some personal or professional goal(s) comes to know the emotional, financial and spiritual risks that come with the personal journey. No pain, no gain! America is facing its greatest crisis since the Civil War (1861-65). We look like we’re fighting it all over again. Individual political risk-taking or maybe leadership risk-taking is needed more than ever before if the United States is going to ever get pass all the arguing and get to the bottom of the many problems sinking our ship of state.

However, we aren’t electing men and woman of courage – honest risk-takers. No, we’ve been electing politicians who tell us what we want to hear while blaming the other side. There seems to be no ownership of the problems. What we’ve been getting is a low risk, low reward message. We want doctors that pass out Band-Aids, not life-saving surgeons. These ray-haired men and women wearing suits stand before a bank of microphones and TV cameras telling us everything, but the truth.

For several decades, we’ve repeatedly elected these low-risk politicians who’ve taken to “kicking the can down the road” too many times in dealing with a number of critical issues facing our country from the insolvency of Social Security, the growth of Medicare and Medicaid spending, the national debt and annual deficit, global banking crisis and $3 trillion bank bailout, 2008 stock market and real estate crash, the bankrupt national flood insurance program, the U.S. Postal Service insolvency, the Great Recession, jobs and unemployment, $1 trillion in federal student loan debt and the role of college in this society, a fair and simple tax policy, poverty, foreign policy matters, leadership, a government that works and is putting our country back on a safe course. Maybe this crisis has occurred gradually since the Vietnam War or maybe since the fall of the Soviet Union, I’m not exactly sure.

Issues like abortion, capital punishment, the drug war and gun rights, which may have once been issues that genuinely divided the two major parties, since the 1960’s, have become issues used to trap the other candidate into saying something stupid while working on the campaign trail. Neither party seems to have any honest desire to get to the bottom of these issues and resolve them. I believe the inability to find a resolution with these matters has spilled over into much of the other critical business take gets debated, but is never settled in Congress or in Washington. No one cares to know the truth about much of anything, anymore.

As I took a break from writing this piece, I gave thought to the late Steve Jobs, the former Chairman, CEO and Co-founder of Apple, Inc. In 1997, Steve, a risk-taker, was invited back to Apple Computer, Inc. after being fired from the company that he co-founded with orders to save it after a 1st quarter $708 million (loss). Apple was in big trouble with one boot already in the grave. Steve had already made two other technology companies very successful. With vision and purpose, Jobs introduced the very successful iMac computer quickly returning Apple back to profitability, by the end of 1998. He then took Apple in a whole new direction away from thinking, breathing, building and selling just personal computers by taking advantage of new technology and the internet to create three new product categories of handheld devices – beginning with the very successful iPod PMP3 (2003), before bring to the market the perfect smartphone – the iPhone (2007) and later the iPad tablet (2010). Each product, on its own, was a home run.

In one decade, Steve turned a broke computer manufacturer into the most valuable company trading on Wall Street. The world, now, knows that no other person could have done a better job at Apple, Inc. than what Steve did. After all, the co-founder had what the company had long been missing and needing – a heart and a soul. Steve had that.

If America is going to survive this current crisis, it won’t be because the next person living in The White House is a faithful Republican or Democrat, but instead they’re a faithful American – a risk taker with a heart and a soul for this country and has respect for its spiritual foundation. If we can find that person, will we have the courage required to elect and trust this maverick?

True risk is only thing that forces spiritual and emotional growth so immediately, so dramatically… In the end, I know I won’t find it personally rewarding just to toe the line, stick to the formula. I’ve got to progress more as a person than as a personality.
– Sting

When we think about our elected officials – the same ones that never retire and leave Washington for their home state, who never bow out graciously and turn over the reins to the next American, do we think of them as people growing, as people maturing becoming wiser and giving us their best effort or do we think of them as a bunch of “stick to the formula” personalities? Don’t we deserve better than this or do we?


Ban Breathnach, Sarah, A Man’s Journey to Simple Abundance. Risk by Sting. Copyright © 2000

Entrepreneur.com – Steve Jobs: An Extraordinary Career, http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/197538

Wikipedia.org – Mayflower, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayflower

Wikipedia.org – Political aversion, http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risk_aversion

Copyright © 2014. All Rights Reserved. “Risk averse” by Ted Burnett

My other essays and videos can be viewed at my website – http://www.tedburnett.com. I can be contacted via email at – ted@tedburnett.com.

I'm an American thought leader and pioneer on the subjects of human, organizational and societal development and health. I write about the role that integrity, dignity, sanity play, as well as, on the topics of spirituality, faith, freedom, happiness, problem solving and risk taking. I produce and deliver original, world-class commentaries on business, political, social and spiritual matters to a global audience of world leaders, chief executives and key decision makers, top faculty and notables in the fields of academia, banking, business, foundations, government (including heads of state, lawmakers and governors), healthcare, media, non-profits and policy institutes. Website: www.thesageofmobile.com