Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Risk is a four letter word.

Today marks the anniversary of when I entered the security field.  Some security mishaps over the long Independence Day holiday, and several strange twists of fate, prompted me to be "promoted" to be the head of security - both physical and computer security.  It was a field I knew little about then... and what I learned has kept me up nights ever since.

But one crucial component has stuck with me, and I now want to pass it on to you.  Security is not about eliminating all risk and making something perfectly and totally safe... such a goal is impossible.  There will always be a level of risk that, at some point, you have to accept because to eliminate that risk would cost too much (in some unit of measure of cost), and it would not be worth what you are trying to protect.  You can protect yourself from stubbing your toe by wearing steel toed boots day and night - but is that really worth it?

We all take risks on a daily basis - we just don't think about them.  We have accepted the risk, and it is part of our daily lives.  If we did not risk anything - we would also not gain anything.

Safe.  Risk.  Gain.  Three strangely related four letter words.  Keep them in mind.


  1. Not only should you look risk as a way of protecting yourself from possible harm, but you also should consider how you are protecting yourself from opportunity. You touched on gain, but what about growth? (I know, too many letters) If you're never exposed to risk, you don't get a chance to learn from mishaps and close calls.

    This is something I'm regularly dealing with when it comes to my kids. Am I a bad mom because I regularly expose my kids to risk (say, on the monkey bars), or do I give them a chance to learn for themselves and develop the confidence to know for themselves what they can do?

    It is also something I'm facing in my personal and professional life. Approaching a stranger, taking on new duties...

    Quite a broad topic you chose there!

  2. The usual term for the counterpart to "risk" is "reward" in this context, but of course I had to use a flw equivalent. "Gain" is certainly meant to cover a broad set of rewards in this case - growth included.

    And yes... it is a broad angle that covers many aspects of our life. You cite two great examples that are quite different from each other or from the original risk that I was used to analyzing in my job. But even today I look at tasks for work and examine the risks involved in taking an action, how we can reduce or mitigate those risks, and the cost that might be involved in doing so.

    And hey... I try to post FLWs that are deeper than they might first seem. {: