Ask a successful person and they’ll tell you the key to their success was being willing to take risks and, when plans failed, learn the lessons and move on. No wallowing. If only it were that easy.
Research shows we’re wired to play it safe in order to:
• Overestimate the risks, focusing on what might go wrong over what could go right.
• Underestimate our ability to handle risks.
• Discount the cost of inaction.
Although avoiding risk might feel safer in the short term, it also puts us at risk of one day looking back and wondering what if?
To help you find your courage at work and in life, here are four risks that will open the door to achieving more of what you want (and sparing you the stress you don’t want).
1. Risk confrontation: Be courageous in your conversations.
The most important conversations are often the most uncomfortable. It’s why we too often avoid them. But when you risk speaking up about the issues weighing you down, you not only spare yourself unnecessary angst, but you also earn trust in ways that tiptoeing around crucial issues never can. People might not always like what you have to say, but they will always respect your courage for saying it.
2. Risk mistakes: Be decisive despite your uncertainty.
Sure, it’s your job to ensure mistakes aren’t made, but be careful to not let your fear of making a mistake keep you from actually doing better. Sometimes, you have to risk doing something less than perfectly in order to simply get it done or find a better way to do things than before. Look at the big picture and ask yourself if by avoiding any mistakes, you’re actually doing everyone a disservice, yourself most of all.
3. Risk quitting: Embrace change, however uncomfortable.
“But this is how we’ve always done it,” people say this to justify their aversion to change. But how it’s always been done might no longer be the best way to do it (if it ever was). Every day (or dollar) you invest in something that isn’t producing the results you want is a day you aren’t working on something that could. Sometimes, the bravest thing we can do is to call it a day, learn the lessons and move on. Change, even change for the better, is never easy. But letting pride or fear to keep you sticking with something that is holding you (and others) back only sets you up for more stress in the long run.
4. Risk rejection: Ask for what you really want.
As social beings, we’re wired to want to belong and thus why FOMO (fear of missing out) can be a powerful unconscious driver. But only when you risk rejection can you have the chance to get what you really want. Of course you might not always get what you ask for, but assuming people can read your mind is a recipe for frustration and resentment. Taking responsibility to let others know what you want puts you in a best possible position to get it.
Whether it’s standing out, speaking up or owning mistakes, experience has taught me that though courage doesn’t guarantee success, it always precedes it. Blaze a braver path in the year to come. You’ll never regret that you did a year from now. You’ll likely regret that you didn’t.
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