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Dare to take risks

Walter Wriston, former chairman of Citicorp, once observed, “Failure is not a crime. Failure to learn from failure is.” When Jim Burke became the head of a new products division at Johnson & Johnson, one of his first projects was the development of a children’s chest rub. The product failed miserably, and Burke expected that he would be fired.

When he was called in to see the chairman of the board, however, he had a surprising reception. “Are you the one who just cost us all that money?” asked Robert Wood Johnson. “Well, I just want to congratulate you. If you are making mistakes, that means you are taking risks, and we won’t grow unless you take risks.”

One of the ever-present features of our present world is that no one knows for certain what factors will be conducive to the success of any venture. Given our human limitations, the only possible course is to take the initiative in spite of being unable to forecast the result. This is the risk factor. No doubt there are apprehensions about taking risks. But in the present world, nothing can be achieved without a certain amount of daring. As the proverb goes, no risk no gain.

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