When we think of risk takers, we think of business innovators: Nikola Tesla, Jeff Bezos or Arianna Huffington. They were ready to take smart risks to create what mattered to them. Are you ready to take a risk to become who you were meant to be? Smart risks are as essential to great personal growth as they are to innovative business development. In fact, great business and professional growth depend on personal development.
A survey conducted by a contributor toForbes magazine in 2017 showed that 66% of CEOs enjoy taking risks. In other words, there is a definite link between risk and achievement.
The key to making great headway on your goals will be in your willingness to take a calculated risk.
How can you know you are actually taking calculated risks? You can start by reflecting on the following:
Your Past Choices
Did you opt for the safe route? Did you turn down opportunities to speak publicly despite your goal to broaden your professional contacts? Did you pass on a social event even though your goal was to nurture your relationships?
Whatever the circumstances, notice when you made decisions that work against your goals.
Sometimes they are hard to spot. Check in with your body. Your head may tell you that you are making the wisest decision, but your body knows better. Are you feeling energized? Light? Butterflies in your stomach? Great. These are the signs that you are growing and stretching. But if you feel tension in the back of your neck and a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, your body may be telling you that you’re letting yourself down.
What Were You Trying to Avoid?
Sometimes avoidance is a resistance to change. This is human and natural and something we all need to work with. Don’t avoid it. Pay attention. What is it telling you? Is it saying that you would be humiliated if you shared your ideas at work? That you can’t afford to take the time you need to recover from burnout?
While these are powerful enough, can you go a little deeper?
Look for another layer. What do you believe? That you will never have enough money? You will never have a job to go back to – ever? That you will die of shame if you share your ideas? These are examples of limiting beliefs.
Don’t Let Fear Be in Charge
Fear is necessary. It keeps us safe. The key is to tell the difference between the fear that protects you and the fear that holds you back. The dire consequences we fear are usually not realistic. Total destitution is not likely if you take time off work to heal from an illness. It is also unlikely that you will never have friends again if you embarrass yourself at a party.
Identify the Smart Risks for Your New Goals
A smart risk is a calculated one. First, identify the risk that would bring you closest to reaching your goal. Taking risks randomly will not have the focused result you are looking for. For example, if you want to streamline your productivity at work but then take on a major project without the structures to support it, the risk was in the wrong place. You were focused on taking on new work, not on the goal to increase efficiency. The best risk may have been to say “no” to the project until your resources were in place.
- When you have the risk in mind, what would the best outcome be? If the risk you want to take is to rent an office for your new business, the best outcome might be that your client base grows.
- What would be the worst outcome? Perhaps you would not have the client base and you would still have rent to pay.
- What would be an acceptable loss to you? Is the rent for one year tolerable in the worst-case scenario? Is it an outcome you could recover from?
- What would be the outcome of not taking action? If you do not rent the office, a year from now you will still be where you are today.
Prepare to Take Action
Committing to doing what feels hard may feel unnatural. You can help yourself follow through using these tried-and-true steps:
- First know what action would truly move your goal forward.
- Make time for it in your calendar. If you have not made time for it, it does not exist. If your goal is to streamline the productivity in your office and you fill your calendar with appointments to avoid hard conversations with staff, you will not reach your goal.
- When you feel fear about having the hard conversation for increased efficiency in your office, remember you have already assessed the risk and committed yourself. Do it in spite of the fear.
- Follow up with yourself. Did I do what I committed to doing?
- Get support to take the risk if you notice you are avoiding your smart risk (Accountability partners can be very helpful.)
Are you willing to take a risk on yourself to achieve what matters to you?
I am curious what would support you in taking those risks. Your stretch zone matters so much to your success that I offer you a complimentary coaching session to explore how you can step into it with grace and confidence.
Who you were before is not who you need to be tomorrow.