The biggest risks we take aren’t swashbuckling risks

9 September 2015

There are lots of things in this modern world that can get our heart racing. Flying through turbulence. Close calls while driving. Stories about shootings on the street.

However, the things that are likely to get us seem tame by comparison. They don’t generally elicit the same visceral, fight-or-flight reaction that we often associate with “risk taking”.

The leading cause of death in New Zealand is heart disease. (That is, unless you subscribe to the idea that personal decisions are the leading cause of death…)

For some of us, there are things that we’re actively doing that are increasing our risk to heart disease (and other chronic health issues). Top of the list is smoking. This is followed by excessive drinking.

Personally, I wouldn’t call smoking or excessive drinking especially “swashbuckling”.

But more generally, the “risks” we take aren’t actually associated with action. More than anything, they’re associated with inaction.

In particular:

  • Being physically inactive. How would have thought that the most risky thing you’re doing is spending your evenings on the couch in front of the television?

To a large degree, we’re all risk takers. We don’t laugh in the face of the biggest risks that face us, because they seem so innocuous and creep up on us over time. But a risk is a risk, swashbuckling or not.


acts of omission, swashbuckling risks

About the author 

Sonnie Bailey

In his spare time, Sonnie likes telling people that he’s a former Olympic power walker, a lion tamer, or that he is an orthodontist. He is none of those things. In reality, Sonnie is a financial planner based in Christchurch. Through his business, Fairhaven Wealth (www.fairhavenwealth.co.nz), he provides independent, advice-only, fixed-fee financial planning services. Sonnie is a “recovering lawyer”: he has specialised in trusts and personal client work. He has also worked as a financial services lawyer for many years.

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