Risk Factor

Often, associates are afraid to step out of their comfort zone, and they remain in a static position out of fear of the unknown. Unfortunately, an opportunity may be passed by due to lack of self-confidence and fear of potential failure.

Are you willing to take a risk to be successful? Do you have the self-confidence to leave your comfort zone and potentially fail? If the answer is “No” to each of these questions, this article is written for you.

I am not only talking about risk in your career, but also risk for reward in life. In my years of management experience, I frequently interacted with associates who were not willing to take a risk and, therefore, did not live life to its fullest potential, in my opinion.

It has been my strategy to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision affecting each risk I am considering. I have used the method of listing in two columns each benefit to the situation and each potential negative effect to my decision, both personally and professionally. Then I recommend walking away from this list for a period of time before reviewing it and making any changes. This potentially will give you a new perspective on your personal risk factor.

Take for example a career choice that is presented to you. There are many factors to consider such as:

  • Will this choice affect my family due to relocation?
  • Will this decision be a benefit to my long-term career goals?
  • Am I satisfied with my current position and gaining the experience I will need to move to the next level in the organization?

These are just a few of the considerations you must address to obtain the desired outcome. Often, associates are afraid to step out of their comfort zone, and they remain in a static position out of fear of the unknown. Unfortunately, an opportunity may be passed by due to lack of self-confidence and fear of potential failure.

Building Self-Esteem

Self-esteem comes from within, and we have to learn this lesson in life. Many associates will not take a chance because they have not developed their inner strength. It is a mindset, to say the least. We learn our best lessons from both failure and crossing into the unknown to accomplish specific goals. Build your self-esteem by taking smaller risks and succeeding or failing. Then, when an opportunity is presented to you, the risk factor may be perceived as a goal you can achieve. As an example from my own personal life, I moved from a northern state after the Army to a warmer climate with few funds and no job. I took the risk, and it paid off. I found two jobs and worked 16-hour days to build a financial base. As I moved up the ladder of success in one profession, I was able to quit the second job and devote 10-plus hours a day to the career path I had chosen.

This self-confidence I created in my mind enabled me to resign from a position a few more times without a guaranteed job offer and find permanent employment in my career with more pay and higher benefits. I couldn’t have achieved this without taking the risks early in life and building my inner strength.

It’s Worth the Risk

We will always be confronted with hurdles to career risks due to family, friends, job loyalty, and potential promotions within the organization. Most often, I hear reasons for denying risk such as “I grew up here and I will never relocate due to family” or “I am waiting on the next promotion.” I understand those perspectives, but in the long run to achieve career advancement, an associate should consider the door that will open if he or she is able to relocate. Yes, change is difficult for everyone, but those who embrace the unknown, I have found, are more likely to succeed in their career objectives in the long term.

I like this quote by Steve Goodier: “I have not always chosen the safest path. I’ve made my mistakes, plenty of them. I sometimes jump too soon and fail to appreciate the consequences. But I’ve learned something important along the way: I’ve learned to heed the call of my heart. I’ve learned that the safest path is not always the best path and I’ve learned that the voice of fear is not always to be trusted.”

In conclusion, there are many forms of risk—whether it is family oriented; financially motivated; daily occurrences; or, as I focused on in this article, career oriented. I encouraged many individuals I have mentored in the past to seriously consider taking advantage of a well-thought-out opportunity and focus on their long-term goals by taking the risk. Plan, strategize, and analyze the pros and cons to make the best decision for you, and follow your heart. You may be surprised by the inner strength you create and the rewards you receive when opportunity knocks on your door.

Richard B. Secord is a sales consultant and trainer. He can be reached at Liveforsuccess@aol.com.

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