Risks, hazards, possibilities, chances, spontaneity, rashness etc., these are all the different words we use at many given times in our life in lieu of one word: Impulse. Psychologically speaking, our impulse is a short quick feeling based either on our instincts or due to the high rising emotions within us. It is that feeling which makes us act against all logic and purely upon what we feel should be done. Decisions made in that state could be both; good or bad.
Many would argue that 8/10 times impulsive decisions turn out to have unforeseen consequences which more often than not lead to disastrous occurrences as they are mostly concerned with short – term gains rather than long – term ones but those 2 times or even that 1 time where that decision turns out to be a gamble that made everything we ever did worth it, it is the best possible feeling in the world.
For an entrepreneur taking risks is what their business is all about. Yes, it is true that they have to be very careful so as not to lose more than they can afford to but it is also true that sometimes a risk is needed to be taken. T.S Elliot, one of the 20th century’s major poets says:
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
Psychologists previously thought that those individuals who took risks based on impulsiveness were abnormal and needed professional help. Now, they say after studying the success of worldwide entrepreneurs and how they got to be so successful psychologists concluded that the impulsiveness in those people is what provides them the courage to make decisions when under duress. Professor Barbara Sahakian, the lead researcher of the study done on entrepreneurs and their impulsiveness says:
“This study has shown that not all risk-taking is disadvantageous, particularly when combined with enhanced flexible problem solving, in fact, risky or ‘hot’ decision-making is an essential part of the entrepreneurial process.”
In the business world, especially when we are an investor we are constantly faced with the possibility that all the money we have gambled will be lost and we will be left with nothing, we still go forward with our decisions because of the question, what if? What if it pays off? What if this investment makes up for every hardship or sacrifice we have made? What if we stop now and that becomes the worst decision we ever make. The phrase: ‘It is better to act first and then ask for forgiveness,’ comes to mind when we ask ourselves these questions. This phrase which was surely something that was borne from those who whole – heartedly believed that taking risks i.e. acting on an impulse, is what will get them through any difficulty.
Impulsiveness also plays a hand in relationships because in every relationship there are always ups and downs. Moments that we need to act and moments when we need to back down. The art of having a successful relationship of any kind be it with family, friends or a special someone, we must know when to follow our instincts and act and when to shove them so far down that they will never see the light of day. Impulsive decisions can make or break a relationship. Things like starting an affair with a coworker, deliberately causing a ruckus in the main hall to vent anger, starting a family before we are ready, getting wasted on the weekends, drunken driving etc., are all impulse decisions which can lead to devastating events but there are also those impulses which can lead to our lives changing for the better, like calling up an old high – school friend, patching up a wound we had caused years ago, going home for the holidays even though we have a mountain of work piled up or had to cancel plans with coworkers just so we could see the smile light up on our parents faces. These are the little things that our impulsiveness can cause as well and they mean more than any monetary gain ever could.
Health on the other hand is not something we should be taking risks with. It is always better to be cautionary rather than be sorry later in regards to our mental and physical health. This is where we should firmly tell our instincts and our impulsiveness to take a back seat or to get out altogether because if we aren’t taking care of ourselves then what is the point for taking all these risks! When we surely won’t be there to see the fruits born out of our labor. Things like not listening to a doctor’s advice, not taking our medicine on time, craving and eating a meaty cheesy burger even though we have a bad heart, drinking and smoking cigarettes when we have a bad liver and have been expressly told by the professionals to avoid such risky behaviors. Following our impulses rather than our logic in this case i.e. of our health would mean inevitable death.
J.K Rowling says: “What is life without a little risk?” but Warren Buffett says: “Never test the water with both feet.”
Two world renowned individuals have given two different meanings on the idea of impulsive decisions taken in life. Whom should we follow? Why not both? Impulsiveness is neither always bad and nor is it always good. It can mean amplitude of wins and a back load of loss as well but the fun of it is we’ll never know until we try. Our impulsiveness is a part of our personality; it has a hand in shaping who we are and what we will become. It is our duty as impulsive individuals to understand and adhere to the lines drawn between what is right and good and what is foolish and bad. The moment we understand those lines is the moment we will become successful in all manners of our life because we will know when to give in to our impulses and when to stop.