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Taking Risks: The Importance of Confidence in Risk-Taking


Taking risks is necessary for growth and development in life. Max Gunther said it best, “It is essential to take risks. Examine the life of any lucky man or woman, and you are all but certain to find that he or she was willing, at some point, to take a risk. Without that willingness, hardly anything interesting is likely to happen to you.”

However, many individuals are too pessimistic to take risks or do anything. They end up paralyzed by risks that don’t exist or greatly exaggerating them, preventing them from reaching their full potential. Magnus Carlsen and Charlie Rose discuss this topic in more detail in an interview. In this article, we will explore the importance of confidence in risk-taking and the two key lessons we can extract from Carlsen’s and Rose’s conversation.

The Importance of Confidence in Risk-Taking:

Magnus Carlsen believes that it is always better to be overly confident than pessimistic. He argues that if you are not optimistic and looking for your chances, you will miss opportunities. Many immensely talented individuals could have been one of the best if they had just had more confidence. Carlsen mentions that there are people he analyzes chess with that know everything about the game, but they cannot play because they lack the confidence to do so.

Expert Confidence vs. Phony Confidence:

There are two types of confidence: expert and phony. Expert confidence comes from deep fluency and allows individuals to understand the risks they are taking. On the other hand, phony confidence comes from ignorance and fools individuals into thinking they understand something when they don’t. As a result, they take risks they don’t know they’re taking. It’s best to assume that your confidence is phony if you have to ask which type of confidence you have. However, this shouldn’t prevent you from taking action. Instead, ensure that you have a larger margin of safety than you think you need for the risks you can’t see.

The Paradox of Ignorance:

When it comes to risk-taking, not all risks are the same. Over-estimating risk can be as costly as under-estimating it when it prevents you from moving. Too much pessimism can prevent individuals from trying when the cost of failure is low, while too much optimism can encourage unwarranted risk when the cost of failure is high.


The importance of confidence in risk-taking cannot be overstated. It’s essential to be optimistic and look for opportunities rather than being too pessimistic to take risks. When it comes to risk-taking, it’s crucial to have expert confidence rather than phony confidence. Moreover, individuals must recognize that not all risks are the same, and over-estimating risk can be as harmful as underestimating it. Taking risks is necessary for growth and development, but it’s essential also to understand the risks you’re taking and take steps to mitigate them.

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