Risking it All (With a Plan, Of Course)
“If you are not willing to risk the usual you will have to settle for the ordinary.”
– Jim Rohn
I used to love playing the game Risk when I was a kid. At first, it was all about seeing those little armies spread across the map at all costs. But, as I got older and learned more about the game, I learned that Risk–like risk–isn’t just blindly charging ahead and hoping for the best. Instead, strategy is the name of the game.
Risk is often used synonymously with luck or gamble. You’re in Vegas; you risk it all in the hopes that your bet will pay off. But true risk actually involves making a plan, stretching yourself, and strategically choosing the right path to ensure success. By understanding how to truly take risks at work, your actions could pay off big-time in the game of life.
Keep Doing, Keep Getting
Some people are more predisposed to taking risks than others. Analytical minds can sometimes put roadblocks in the way when they should be thinking about alternate routes. I tell my clients that if you keep doing the same thing, they’re going to get the same results. That’s fine if you’re happy with the outcome, but if you’re feeling stagnant and stuck, something needs to change. After all, while some might say that the opposite of risk is security, it might also be mediocrity and dissatisfaction.
Naturally, some areas of your life require more risk than others–and that’s fine. You don’t need to constantly put yourself out there if you’re comfortable and satisfied with the way things are going. If, however, you’re feeling looked over or stuck, it’s time to get out of that comfort zone.
Mitigating Risk and Reward
It’s important to remember that risk isn’t a slot machine: you don’t simply pull the handle, shut your eyes, and hope for the best. That implies that risk is more like luck; sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. But risk has the secret weapon, and that’s you. Your choices and actions mean that it’s a lot more like the strategic board game than a game of chance.
You feel like your manager never gives you the chance to stretch yourself, for instance. You wait around hoping that she’ll pick you for a big project, but it never happens. Staying silent isn’t working, so what’s the next step?
Strategizing is the first step to taking meaningful professional risks. You might think about areas in which you feel you’d excel and then plan the approach. You then manage expectations, plan, and deliver to ensure that your risk of speaking up and volunteering for responsibility really pays off. If executed properly, your risk of stretching yourself results in your manager noticing your strengths and then extending future projects to you.
Are you taking calculated risks in your professional life, or are you pulling the handle and crossing your fingers? As long as you’re willing to really stretch yourself and create a strategic plan for putting yourself out there, you’re likely to come out on top.