Risk is one of those things that’s hard to put your finger on. Think about it. What exactly does it mean when someone says, “Be a risk taker?”
I wasn’t quite aware of the ramifications of becoming a risk taker myself, until I began to find myself in situations where I had to make a unique choice. Taking risks doesn’t necessarily mean jumping off a cliff or throwing my entire life savings into launching my own business. It was more a matter of whether to continue on the straight and narrow or following my instincts about what I felt would be effective and exciting both personally and professionally.
Things like wearing neutral business clothes (wear less black), using the same-old/same-old marketing materials, and speaking in a less than authoritative way, would be considered “good enough.” If I branched out with my wardrobe, developed my own professional career, and spoke about my ideas with authority, I would be taking the risk of falling flat on my face.
Feeling the thrill of the risk, I chose the latter, and it paid off in a big way. It got me noticed by my peers, bosses, and clients, who began to view me as confident, intelligent, and a promising resource to do business with, so my success rate went up.
Since then, I’ve come to see that being a risk taker has wonderful benefits that come as a result:
Makes you feel alive
To be fair, there is a satisfaction to doing everything “right” and pleasing the world around you. But there’s also an undeniable thrill that comes from taking a risk. The adrenaline that pumps through your body when you’re doing something in an entirely new way, is worth the risk on its own. In fact, I have found myself so much more comfortable taking risks because of this feeling.
Gets you noticed
Most people will take the easy route, because in general the population lacks self-confidence, and taking risks forces you to put yourself out there. You’re not just following the program when it comes to risk. Instead, you’re saying to those around you, “Look at my ideas.” Because it’s so rare for people to take risks, when you do, you’ll get noticed. And when you’re noticed, you’ll be thought of when it comes to advancing at work, or when clients are deciding who to do business with.
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, and to mindlessly follow the habits you’ve been stuck in for years. So if you want something to change, you’re going to have to do something different. Doing something different is uncomfortable and comes with a sense of the unknown. After all, you haven’t proven its effectiveness yet. But taking a risk is the only way to create change, so it’s well worth the effort. Even if the initial plan isn’t effective, it will teach you more about what will and will not work, being productive in the end.
Creates a higher standard
When you begin taking risks and seeing the results it offers, a new standard begins to form in your mind. You are no longer satisfied with just enough, and know that in order to create something of excellence, you will need to go to the next level. Soon, a new comfort zone is created where risk is the norm, and the rate at which you are working is higher than before.
Because risk is usually an expression of your own ideas, it can teach you a lot about yourself. The more comfortable you are with exploring new abilities within yourself, the more aware you will become of just what lies inside you. And the more success you experience within those areas, the more confident you will become.
Are there downsides to risk? Sure. That’s why it’s called risk. You very well could put yourself out there in a big way and fall flat on your face. But what if you don’t? The benefits are worth it. Evaluate where you are and think about where you want to be, and take the risks necessary to get there.