“Often, in the real world, it's not the smart that get ahead but the bold.” - Robert Kiyosaki
Fortune favors the bold... unless it doesn’t. When someone takes a considerable risk in hopes of a pay off, they can end up a superstar if it goes well or, if not, a tool who took a serious loss. Let’s face it, incredibly confident people can be nauseating if they teeter on the edge of narcissistic or delusional. If they act boldly and succeed, however, they usually get promoted to inspirational.
While some are obsessed with guts and glory and big dogs running off porches, a fair number of us would prefer to just watch and see how the all these bold moves shake out. Does it make us smart or timid?
Acclaimed director, Werner Herzog, isn’t that impressed by bold moves without the forethought: “If you do not have an absolutely clear vision of something, where you can follow the light to the end of the tunnel, then it doesn't matter whether you're bold or cowardly, or whether you're stupid or intelligent. Doesn't get you anywhere.”
But that’s not necessarily true. As Cracked Magazine explored in their article, 6 Scientific Advances Courtesy of Reckless Self Endangerment, sometimes ready, fire, aim works out really well. Like in the case of Thomas E. Brittingham III who proved cancer wasn't contagious by injecting himself with diseased blood or the inventor of the stomach pump that purposely overdosed to be a subject of his new nasty invention no one wanted to develop.
Scientists have been trying to work out some of a subtle variances between confident and reckless for years, usually settling on the idea that reckless people, like teenagers, are not using their prefrontal cortex all that well for various reasons.
However, this recent study out of Finland found that many risk takers are actually more intelligent than their timid strategizing peers. It turns out that more developed white matter in the brain can be linked to curiosity, learning drive and seeking challenges. This behavior then gets reinforced by your brain chemicals and a bold person is born, so to speak.
Head scientist on the study, Dagfinn Moe, has a caveat, however. "We're wording our findings with a Darwinian slant -- it takes brains to take risks," he says. “Sadly, many fail during this learning process -- with tragic consequences.”
Before you berate yourself for lack of boldness, consider that you probably are a risk taker in some area of your life. As it turns out, being bold is not just one thing. Columbia University psychologist, Elke Weber, created a model called "domain-specific risk propensity," which illustrates the subjective character of risk taking. As it turns out, we each have a unique risk propensity in each of five categories: financial, health/safety, recreational, ethical and social. So while you may be a “bold mover” with your finances, you might prefer holding back on the social circuit.
So, it seems that perhaps the fine line between bold and reckless could be represented by intelligence, but maybe even more so by result. If you’re bold and it go wells, you are clever. If it doesn’t pay off, you are an idiot.