I now firmly believe that there are two polar opposites at work:
Thrill seekers and
Notice that I don't use the word 'risk' to describe either category. More on that soon.
How do we explain the fact that Forbes finds more than 700 billionaires and virtually none are both young and retired? Why keep working?
How do explain why so many organizations get big and then just stop? Stop innovating, stop pushing, stop inventing...
Why are seminars sometimes exciting, bubbling pots of innovation and energy while others are just sort of dronefests?
I think people come to work with one of two attitudes (though there are plenty of people with a blend that's somewhere in between):
Thrill seekers love growth. They most enjoy a day where they try something that was difficult, or--even better--said to be impossible, and then pull it off. Thrill seekers are great salespeople because they view every encounter as a chance to break some sort of record or have an interaction that is memorable.
Fear avoiders hate change. They want the world to stay just the way it is. They're happy being mediocre, because being mediocre means less threat/fear/change. They resent being pushed into the unknown, because the unknown is a scary place.
An interesting side discussion: one of the biggest factors in the success of the US isn't our natural resources or location. It's that so many people in this country came here seeking a thrill.
So why not call them risk seekers and risk avoiders? Well, it used to be true. Seeking thrills was risky. But no longer. Now, of course, safe is risky. The horrible irony is that the fear avoiders are setting themselves up for big changes because they're confused. The safest thing they can do now, it turns out, is become a thrill seeker.
Who do you work with?