Is it worth the risk?


photo morguefile

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?


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