Previous coworkers have made comments on how I tend to be very blunt in voicing out my judgement and opinions. Some might even say I’m not afraid of taking risks.
One side of risk affordability is associated with psychological safety . Teams with high psychological safety are able to perform better, because the members trust their teammates. Team members are able to assume that everyone acts with good intention, regardless of the outcome. Individuals are able to express themselves freely – without the worry of getting punished for speaking truths from their perspective.
The other side of risk affordability that I’d like to mention is time and scope. In Being Mortal , Atul Gawande described how his late father, Atmaram, made decisions differently, given the health timeframe told by his doctor. When the doctor signaled that Atmaram’s time may not be much, Atmaram prioritized seeing his grandchildren the most. Inversely, when sentiment shifted, he was able to justify spending more time doing his research and work.
If there exists a graph of my risk affordability in the recent years, I think I peaked around 2018-2019.
I have been struggling to reason the trend, but my conversations in the past few days shed a light – I subconsciously feel unsafe about my ability to commit on things, given a time constraint which I have to live with.
Let’s just say that my situation with immigration only guarantees my presence in the US for about another year. Anything beyond is still numbers game.
Surely the degree of intensity on this matter is much less compared to that of Atmaram. Yet I’m still surprised by how much this affected my decision making path.
This line (paraphrased) struck me:
It sounds like you’d rather go home on your terms than to play numbers game and let the decision be made outside of your hands.
The idea of working in tech in Silicon Valley is analogous in my mind with being a fashion designer working in Milan – it’s basically a place you’d want to be for indefinite amount of time.
Being in Silicon Valley made me realize how the Erdős number of industry pioneers are not as high as I thought. I still remember the day I was talking with my then manager about some Ruby project, to which he replied, “Ah, yes, haven’t talked to him (project author) in a while. Gotta check what he’s up to nowadays.”
Going back to how San Francisco Bay Area is the place to be, perhaps there is a diminishing return to this idea. Everyone has to sacrifice different things to be somewhere, making trade-offs on opportunity cost of other choices in life.
For me, the trade off is risk affordability, which I have been struggling to consciously admit, until recently.
Safety is a privilege, one that is often discounted from stories with survivorship bias.