Risk and Hazard Are Not the Same Thing

It’s truly remarkable how much your outlook on life changes when you have a child of your own. That complete and utter responsibility for a completely helpless little ball of flesh really puts everything into perspective. Just like learning how to blog or run an online business, you get bombarded with all sorts of cryptic lingo and jargon, and develop a voracious appetite for all sorts of books and other content to teach you how to do things better. It’s a whole new world. It’s a brave new world.

This development also bolsters your ability to draw connections across seemingly unrelated topics. When you’re raising a child, every topic suddenly becomes incredibly relevant. Politics are important, because you want to know about the policies that will affect your child’s education and upbringing. Health and wellness issues are important, because you want to raise a healthy human. Cultural discussions float to the top, because you want to raise a moral and ethical person too.

And then, there are the issues of safety. (Don’t worry. I’ll get to how this relates to making money online in just a second.)

Adventure Playgrounds

I recently came across a Vox video that asserts safe playgrounds aren’t great for kids. Instead, the video features what are called adventure playgrounds, which are also known as junk playgrounds. These are playgrounds largely built around discarded construction materials and other “junk.”

Image credit: vinzcha on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

They don’t look like regular playgrounds at all; they’re kind of ugly and seemingly quite dangerous. But they teach children about how to mitigate risk and how to create their own environments.

In the relatively short video, they say that risk and hazard are not the same thing. They bring up the example of climbing a tree. Most assuredly, children climbing trees involves a certain element of risk. After all, they could fall off the tree and hurt themselves. That’s risk. However, the seemingly intact branch that’s actually totally compromised is a hazard. The child steps onto the branch thinking that it is safe, but it breaks away, and the child falls.

Branching Out

In both instances, we have a child who fell out of a tree. The difference is that in the “risk” scenario, the child entered the situation knowing the risks involved. It’s more about managed risk and making educated, calculated decisions along the way. The “hazard” is something unexpected, something that basically came out of nowhere to cause the child harm. With these “adventure playgrounds,” the goal is create a “dangerous” environment where children can navigate their way through “managed” risk scenarios.

So, what does this mean for those of us who run online businesses and make money on the Internet?

It’s true that when you decide to strike it out on your own, you’re taking a risk. A salaried position at a traditional company may provide a stable paycheck, but the theoretical opportunities could be limited. And if that company should fold or if you get laid off, there’s not much to fall back on. At least in an immediate sense.

Indeed, you might argue that making money online with your own business is more stable than a regular job in that you can manage multiple streams of income, all of which have theoretically limitless potential. You navigate through a series of managed risk scenarios, especially if you rely on arbitrage to turn a profit, but you’re largely in control.

Out of Control

But there are hazards too, of course. These are elements outside of your control that could come flying in from left field. If you earn in US dollars, but live outside the United States, shifts in currency exchange rates could dramatically affect your livelihood. If the economy takes a crash like it did in 2008, you could suffer (or you could capitalize on newfound opportunities) too. Those are hazards, but they’re also hazards whose effects you can mitigate if you plan ahead.

Making money online might be risky, but holding down a traditional 9-to-5 can be risky too. It’s just a matter of how you choose to manage your adventure among all that junk.