You deserve the career you want, on your terms. It’s there for the taking …
… if you take risks, that is. And if you are intentional.
There are no two ways about it: Vulnerability is an unavoidable side effect of ambition. But if you avoid taking risks, you limit your opportunities.
“In my experience, … wishful thinking — that things will sort themselves out on their own — rarely works out,” writes Anne Kreamer, formerly Executive Vice President, Worldwide Creative Director, for Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite. “Not taking action has costs that can be as consequential as taking risks; it’s simply less natural to calculate and pay attention to the ‘what-ifs’ of inaction.”
What You Need
In the process of taking a chance, you can transform your risks into opportunity. Risk and opportunity: two sides of the same coin. So how do you develop the confidence to flip that coin? (Spoiler alert: it can land on its end, but that’s a topic for another time!)
· Personal and professional support. It’s required on two fronts: Emotional support at home and from friends, and professional help from the network of mentors and advisors you have developed up to that point. In your career, you are going to want to know that you can turn to ask for help if (and when) you need to talk. Remember: there is no point building up your network if you aren’t going to reach out and talk to them. That’s why they are there.
· Develop trust in your own abilities. So, risk-taking 101: When you take risks and succeed, you learn more and more about the process. Equally important, after enjoying some of the rewards, you grow increasingly confident in your skills and judgement. Warning: you will have some missteps. Everyone does. But while you might fall, but it won’t be that far. And you’ll get back up and you will have learned a great deal.
· Understand fear versus fact. Fear comes with risk-taking … no matter your experience level. When you have concerns, you need to mitigate them with facts. And with all those facts (which you should obtain through research, not just guessing) lined up against your fears, you will be able to assess the real value of the opportunity. And here’s the kicker: You also can identify the “worst thing that can happen” and answer this critical question: Can I live with that outcome?
· Learn from others’ risk taking. Fact: none of us is unique. Other professionals face similar choices all the time. And their experiences provide a really useful primer from which to learn.
o You can gain more from taking a risk – and making yourself vulnerable – than by staying in an unhealthy situation.
o While risk taking is scary and takes courage, taking the risk regardless of the outcome builds resiliency and confidence. The more you do it, the easier it will become.
o Not taking risks isn’t safer. It will actually hamper your career progression. Think about it: According to KPMG, 55% of women surveyed in a 2019 study agree that people who take more career risks progress more quickly than others. However, they often limit their risk taking and tend to be more comfortable taking professional chances that benefit their group or company than ones that benefit themselves, regardless of the size of the risk or their years of experience.
“When it comes to their careers, many women find themselves in a bit of a bind,” says Michele Meyer-Shipp, KPMG's chief diversity officer. “They're trying to preserve their gains, so instead of playing to win, they're often playing not to lose – whether hesitating to take perceived big risks or feeling the need to take outsized chances.”
Going for It
You don’t have to live with the consequences of not taking a risk. Be intentional. You can take calculated risks that open up an entirely new world of opportunities.
More often than not, success is preceded by risk – the boldness of saying what you want, the vulnerability of asking for what you need to get there, and the audacity to push in when you have a chance.
Remember: You deserve the opportunities, successes, recognition – and career — you want, on your terms.
Go ahead. Make it happen.
*Note: The content published above was made in collaboration with our members.
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