The Risk of Not Taking Risks: A Moment of Pause and Reflection

The Risk of Not Taking Risks: A Moment of Pause and Reflection

Published March 22, 2017

I was driving in my car recently with plenty of windshield time, contemplating my kids’ future. I was thinking how I could coach them into a trajectory that would lead them to happiness, fulfilment and success. What naturally followed was an exercise of self-reflection, deconstructing the path leading to my professional career and, more importantly, where I’d like to go. Using personal experience as a benchmark, I had the realization that the most important advances in my life actually came by stepping out of my comfort zone and taking risks. I know this concept has already been covered in countless different ways, but here are a few thoughts on the matter – my personal take.

Life without risk is totally boring.

As we sit at our desks and run through our daily routines, we tend to find safety with what we are used to – our comfortable zone. It’s hard to pull out of the inertia, with gravity keeping you in place, like trying to walk on Jupiter. Indeed, you and I have experienced this before. To “break out” we have to step back and think about what we need to do to get noticed, add value, increase revenue, execute strategy, etc. In sales (and wealth advisory, too), it could be as simple as picking up the phone and cold calling, asking an existing client for a reference or public speaking. There’s a reason why hardworking people get “lucky” and become successful. It’s not because they are better than you. It’s because they take risks. Make a list of things you could do today, in the near term and over time. Dip your toe by starting small, but stay persistent, and the results that follow will energize you!

Success is addictive.

Ever notice how successful people just keep on being successful, no matter what their venture of the day might be? I know a few. Everyone starts somewhere, most from ground zero. It all starts with a single success, which is always the hardest one. There are the immediate endorphins (which are great), but more importantly, there’s a subsequent chain reaction of positive outcomes that elevates our souls and redefines our boundaries. That is the tipping point, or inverse relationship, where our fears become marginalized by our ever-increasing confidence. Expect acknowledgement and recognition to take many forms, including “high fives” with colleagues, management noticing you, sharing successes at the dinner table or at the bar, etc. Think about how you can turn that chain reaction into a process, where repeatable behaviors ensure repeatable outcomes, ensuring a self-fulfilling cycle of momentum and continuous enrichment. That is the addiction you need to discover.

Success attracts success.

If you’re in the market to buy a house, and you can choose between two types of sales people to work with, one who sold hundreds of houses over her career and the other who sold five, which person are you going to choose? Clearly the former is an outright success and just dominates our attention. However, the most important asset you have is your state of mind and the energy you project. What do people see when they see you? Do they see some basic characteristic like confidence, enthusiasm, motivation or knowledge? Are you a problem solver? Are you empathetic? Here’s a thought: Surround yourself with successful people as best as you can. Network with them, observe them, learn from them and ask them questions. If you can find a mentor, then that’s an incredible opportunity – so long as you are mentorable!

In closing, you can create your own self-fulfilling prophecy by simply remembering to pause, reflect, prioritize and execute. Observe what other successful people are doing around you and model your behavior to make their success your own. A risk is simply the act of taking an action without knowing the outcome. As nature dictates, outcomes will vary, but ultimately, they are always revealed, and it only takes a small percentage of wins to propel you forward.

You will never know if you don’t try. Try constantly, all the time. That next step you never took is where success awaits. You know what that step is… so go for it (Nike – Just do it)! As for my kids, I’m delicately trying to build a foundation of confidence where they set goals and think more before they act, building on mini-achievements without fear of failure, but always reflecting… on a much smaller scale…