Magazine article The Futurist

Take Risks When There's No Danger

Magazine article The Futurist

Take Risks When There's No Danger

Article excerpt

A leadership coach says risk taking can advance your career.

Many of us have grown up with prompts and reminders to be careful. When people part company, for example, they often say, "Take care." That utterance can be subtly disempowering. Taking care is one of the reasons why individuals and organizations take so long to change. Imagine how differently you might have developed if your friends and family said to you, "Take risks."

Pause to consider how different you might be. Do you imagine that if you take more risks in the future you will be fabulously successful? Or does the thought cross your mind that you might become physically injured or otherwise harmed?

When dealing with risks, many people automatically presume that risk entails danger. This is because our language confuses danger with the possibilities of embarrassment or disapproval that risk entails. When considering a risky initiative, some people will automatically imagine:

"If I tried that, she'd rip my head off!"

"If I'm not careful, he'll tear me limb from limb!"

"I would just die!"

"I'd fall to pieces!"

"He'll explode!"

Can you think of similar expressions? If you color your anticipation of the future with alarming thoughts, you will automatically inhibit your action. However, those alarms are false alarms.

Those misguided figures of speech do not denote what actually happens when you initiate change. You are not likely to get your head ripped off or your limbs torn to pieces. Other people will not actually explode. If the outcome isn't what you had hoped, you may experience mild, passing embarrassment or disapproval, that's all. Mild discomfort is part of the risk for achieving eventual success.

When those vivid, alarming metaphors intimidate you, you won't venture a risk. The only things that will be "killed" are your initiative, your confidence, your persistence, and your advancement.

You can advance your career by discriminating between risk and danger. Here's the difference: Risk is when an outcome is uncertain. Danger is when your flesh will be torn.

Some initiatives succeed. Some don't. The risk of failure or embarrassment does not make the future dangerous. Your flesh will not get torn during most changes. …

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