I’ve had a few conversations with clients this week about taking risks.
They were about interpersonal risks (making a cold call) and logistical risks (moving states for a new job). For some, networking felt like a risk. For others, it was risky to stay in one job for many years. While everyone views risk differently, it usually brings up a similar feeling: anxiety.
I’m a big fan of emotions as pointers to what we need. They hold crucial information. They invite us to get curious.
Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself when you are facing an anxiety-provoking risk:
- How much do I want the outcome?
- What do I have to lose?
I’m introvert. To me, a cold call feels like risk. And it was a cold call that led me to contract work that helped me launch a new chapter of my career. Here’s the story:
In 2008 I was laid off from a non-profit job I *loved* and was starting my career coaching practice. It was important to have income during this time and I wanted that income to come from coaching. A long time colleague and friend suggested I call the local office of a national talent development organization to see if they were hiring. I knew of this org and had been even used their services myself years earlier.
What did I do? I went to LinkedIn to find a connection. None. I looked at the company website, didn’t see any postings. So I did nothing.
The next time I spoke with my friend she asked if I had called and I said I hadn’t because there was no soft introduction available and it looked like they weren’t hiring. Incredulous over my lack of previously displayed initiative, she said: “Really?” That one word put a fire under me. The risk was there for the taking.
How much did I want it? Quite a lot, for these reasons:
* I felt accountable to a friend that I highly respected
* The organization had a good reputation and I wanted to be a part of their organization
* I wanted income from coaching
What did I have to lose?
Not a lot. No one knew me over there and I was simply making an inquiry.
The next afternoon I dialed the main line. Nervous and feeling inarticulate, I spoke to the receptionist who forwarded me to the right contact. The news: They were hiring for the first time in 7 years. There was an orientation that Friday and I was invited to come. The rest is history – in a few months I was brought on as part of the team.
On revisiting the question of what did I have to lose – I actually did have a lot to lose. Little did I know that if I had not called, or if I called one week later, I would have missed the opportunity entirely. It was worth the risk – at the time, and in hindsight.
What risks are you contemplating taking? How much do you want what is on the other side?