By: Ken Austin
Have you ever noticed a theme with successful people? Nine times out of ten, there was a risk involved and the person needed to take a chance in order to succeed.
Risk-taking is scary for most of us. We’ve been taught to be careful and take baby steps toward our dreams. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, except that it can limit our progress if we hang back for too long! And the longer we hang back, the harder it is to keep moving forward. We get locked into a rut of inertia and can’t seem to move past it.
Believe it or not, risk is not such a terrible thing if you view it from the right perspective. Most people look at it from the perspective of what they stand to lose if it doesn’t work out. But what do you stand to gain if it DOES work out?
Below you’ll find a simple process to determine which risks might be worth taking:
1) What do you stand to gain? With any risk, you’ll want to first look at the potential gains. Make a list of what you stand to gain from moving forward on a risk, and include as much detail as you can. Consider every possible positive benefit you stand to receive.
2) What are the possible negative consequences? Along with the positive benefits, there are always a few possible negative consequences to every risk. Make another list of these, again thinking about all the possible things that could go wrong, and what would happen if they did.
3) Balance, balance, balance. Now compare the two lists and see which one has the strongest likelihood of coming to fruition. Would the gains be worth the risk? Would you be able to handle the negative consequences if they did happen? Are there any options for a middle ground decision, like taking smaller risks to start?
4) How realistic are your fears? Take another look at your list of negative consequences and ask yourself how likely they are to happen. The majority of the time you’ll probably find that your fears don’t have any real substance – they’re just fears. Evaluate each possibility carefully and determine whether it’s a real threat or not.
5) Go with your gut. After carefully weighing the pros and cons, you should have a solid sense of whether you should take the risk now, or wait a bit longer. There’s no shame in deciding to hold back if you decide you can’t handle the negative consequences right now! Remember, you can always re-evaluate the same risk (and others) at a later time and see if conditions have improved at all.
Just by getting into the habit of evaluating your risks in this way, you empower yourself with the confidence to push through inertia and move steadily toward the success you desire.