These words by Thomas Jefferson hold true even till date and will hold gravity till times immemorial. There is a tremendous paucity of audacious people, who venture towards unexplored horizons to achieve something big in their life. The world teems so much with such timid souls that those who go off the beaten path and add a different meaning to their lives by taking risks appear like a tiny bubble in the vast ocean of hesitant people. But time and again, this tiny bubble sends ripples across the waters compelling us to ponder whether it is wise to merely stay safe at the harbour rather than sailing into the infinite unexplored expanse of the seas.

Let me take you back to the period when humans had just started asserting their dominance on the earth. The time when the entire animal population used to fear the elements of nature, a man dared to create one of them by himself. Fire, an element of nature that remained elusive for ages, was produced by the early man by rubbing stones and producing heat through friction. He also invented the wheel that facilitated locomotion. If a man had not ventured out to achieve these feats, could we ever have had such a thriving civilisation on the planet?

Millenniums later, different continents were largely disconnected with each other. There was a widespread misconception of the world being flat and ships falling off the edge if they went out far in the sea. Nevertheless, a brave-heart named Christopher Columbus set out on his ship to debunk this theory and arrive at the knowledge of the planet being round. Had it not been for explorers like Vasco de Gama, Magellan and a few others, new lands like America would not have been discovered and the continents would have been largely disconnected from each other.

Let me teleport you to the year 1879. This is the year when Thomas Alva Edison invented the electric
bulb. Do you know that Edison failed innumerable number of times before he created the incandescent light bulb? If Edison had not failed, he might not have lit up a revolution and might not have become one of the greatest inventors of all times. He said, “I have not failed, I have just found 1,000 ways that won’t work.”

“Both fortune and love befriend the bold.” These words said by Ovid 2,000 years ago, clearly demonstrate the need for aspiring entrepreneurs, academicians and change-makers to take risks in their lives. It may seem easy to take risks when one has nothing to lose. However, it becomes an arduous task to do the same when your dream depends on sacrificing your bank balance, happiness and financial security of your family. This can deter even the best examples of thrill-seekers to succumb to the warm, reassuring embrace of caution.

I would like the reader to know a little about the life of the late Dhirubhai Ambani, the founder of Reliance Industries. Can you imagine that Dhirubhai Ambani stunned people at Aden by diving into the shark-infested waters from a ship and returning to the shore safe, in response to a bet? His risk-taking ability that was far higher than the contemporary business of his time was one of the factors that contributed to the laying of the foundation of one of the most significant examples of entrepreneurship in India. He had been advised by his father not to foray into business; however, his bravado pushed him to sink his life savings of $3,000 in the business of textiles, spices and cotton. The initial days were tough but as it is generally said, ‘smooth seas never made a good sailor’, Dhirubhai Ambani never gave in to the tribulations of venturing into the off-beaten path.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained” means that we cannot expect large profits, unless we are willing to run the risk of losing something. This saying is often used as an argument in favour of gambling because the gambler by running the risk of loss obtains the chance of making a gain. But, although we cannot expect high profits without the risk of loss, it does not follow that it is reasonable to risk our money on the gambling table. Gambling takes a tremendous amount of valuable time, and it exhausts the brain more than most kinds of brain work.

Surely, it must be clear that to waste so much time and so much brain-power, without the certainty or even the probability of adding to one’s wealth, is the height of folly. This, even if we leave out of account the bad effect that gambling has upon the moral character.

No one should ever purchase the chance of gain by the risk of loss unless he has good reason to believe that the probability of profit exceeds the risk of loss. As a matter of fact, in almost all lotteries a large percentage of the value of the tickets goes to pay the expenses of management so that the subscriber’s chance of a prize is considerably less in value than the sum he pays for his ticket.

A sensible businessman would not care to speculate on such terms. He is, however, quite willing to undergo a small amount of risk, when there is a favourable prospect of obtaining massive profits. The shopkeeper or merchant knows well enough that some of the goods he buys may depreciate in value before he can find a purchaser for them, and that it is entirely possible that he will, in the end, have to sell them at a loss. But he has reasonable grounds for trusting that in the course of the year his profits will, to a considerable extent, exceed his losses, or else he would try some other means of earning a livelihood.

There is, indeed, as indicated by the proverb we are considering, a close proportion between gain and risk. In the first place, the profit obtained in any mercantile speculation is divided among the partners according to the quantity of capital subscribed. Other things being equal, the partner who risks Rs. two lakh in business will
receive twice as large a share of the profits as a partner who only risks Rs. one lakh. If we compare different speculations, we find that, where there is much danger of loss, there is a prospect of correspondingly great gain.

If you lend money to an unstable party, you will be in great danger of losing both interest and capital, but in compensation, you may get interest for several years at the high rate of twenty percent. On the other hand, while the holder of Government Bonds is secure against heavy loss; he gets interest for his money at the rate of less than three percent. The clever man of business is better able than his
rivals to calculate the risk of any particular speculation and by his superior knowledge increases his wealth.
He plunges boldly into some speculation which he knows to be less dangerous than it is supposed to be the
world at large, and so gains large profits, though not without risk of loss. It must, however, be remembered that to make such venturesome speculations with success requires the highest intellectual capacity on the part of the speculator.

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