Monday, May 5, 2008

What’s the Worst That Can Happen? And, Then What?

To risk or not to risk – that is the question. And, it’s a great question to ask.

Throughout our careers, we are faced with opportunities that require some risk-taking.

Some risks that you may already have faced include:

•Switching industries
•Asking for a raise
•Taking a new position

What are some of the things that you need to ask yourself, as future situations arise that require risk?

Here are 3 questions that I always consider before taking a new risk:

1) What is the worst that could happen?
2) What are the odds that it really will happen? (In other words, how often does the worst thing happen)?
3) If the worst DOES happen, then what? For the most part, if you are taking calculated risks, there will always be a “then what?”

Years ago, I had the opportunity to take an early retirement from my job as a college professor -- allowing me to turn my part-time training and coaching business into a full-time venture.

Talk about risks! I was the sole support for my two daughters, and never had worked in business before. I first discussed the situation with my dad – a successful businessman. His response was, “Are you crazy?”

That was not what I wanted to hear.

What I have since learned, over the years, is that it is important to surround yourself with people who are positive. Positive people can still be cautious – but at best, they help you explore all possibilities.

Mark Twain said, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

Some people are naturally negative – stay away from them! Other people may be overly cautious, even fearful. Their negativity may be fear-based, but don’t buy into these fears.

Of course, I’m not talking about jumping out of a plane without the parachute! Calculated risks are what I’m talking about – and, the bigger the opportunity, the bigger the risk.

Consider this model:

Big risk = big reward -- Probably worth taking
Big risk = small reward – Questionable

The people I know who are most successful in their careers, and are satisfied with their lives, are the ones willing to take risks.

What risk are you willing to take?

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