Education to risk

Risk analysis is extremely important: sophisticated mathematical tools, big Excel files, multicolored graphs, however the impact on real decisions is limited. It’s a supporting tool than can help, but it’s not  the tool that can automatically decide whether we have to take a risk or not. The behaviour of human beings is rational only in part, and so are decision about risks.

I’m coming from a family of military people, then I know mentality. Militaries, by definition,  are professionals of risk taking, with the additions that their risks are somewhat more serious, since they are not playing with money, but with their own life and with life of others.

My father, who was a General (member of the “role of honour”) of the Italian army,  was used to say that “if there is a valuable objective, you have to take the risk, even if you have to risk your life, in this case you are an hero. If you are taking risks only to show your bravery, you are a stupid”.

The lesson is that the decision whether to take the risk or not is an ethical matter.


Nassim Taleb wrote a fundamental book, that deals with unforseen and unforeseeable events: the black swan. The lesson I took from is that you must be able to reach a compromise between efficiency and contingency margins, since if you look only at the maximum efficiency you’ll have not any reserve to cope with even a small “black swan”.


A Neapolitan idiom says “chi non risica non rosica”, that can be translated as “who does not take the risk, cannot expect the advantages”. On the other side, another idiom says “chi lascia la via vecchia per la nuova, male si trova” that means that “who leaves the known path for the new one, will lose”.


May be it could help some “education to risk”, probably in the high school.

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