How to Turn Taking a Risk Into Success

Prior to leaving my corporate career 20 years ago I was very risk averse. Because of that, there were many changes I wanted to make in my life and work that I didn’t attempt for a long time.

Eventually, I figured out how to get past the risk aversion that was keeping me stuck and created the changes that would enable me to achieve the outcomes I wanted to create, personally and professionally. I finally left the corporate world in 2001 and started my own business. A long-held dream achieved.

Taking that risk broke the shackles of risk aversion that had been holding me back from making other changes. Since then, I have embraced the need to take calculated risks to get from where you are to where you want to be. As a result, I have created many more changes to achieve what matters most to me in my life and work. Without finding ways to overcome my risk aversion I would have stayed stuck.

Whether we like it or not, we can’t change our lives, work, or businesses without some level of risk being involved. There is no guarantee of success before you start so there will always be some degree of uncertainty. And that can feel uncomfortable.

It is easy to end up feeling stuck trying to figure out whether taking that particular risk is the right thing to do or not.  But there are ways to get past all of that.

You do that by creating a strategic approach that will help you set yourself up to succeed. It is about making it a calculated risk.

To help you get started with that, here are 10 things to include in your strategic approach to taking a calculated risk:  

1. Do a thorough risk assessment before you start. Use what comes up to inform your decision making and choices.

2. Create a strategy and a well thought out plan to get you from where you are to where you want to be.

3. Always have a contingency plan. This is your safety net if things don’t turn out as you wanted.

4. Identify any resources you need and put them in place.  

5. Brainstorm everything that could go wrong. Use that information to proactively prepare for those things so you can either stop them happening or manage/reduce their impact if they do.

6. Audit your behaviours, habits, mindset, and emotions. They have a big impact on how effective you will be. Identify how you might hold yourself back and what you need to work on to be as effective as possible.

7. Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. Taking a risk can trigger feelings of discomfort and uncertainty. You need to be able to deal with that.

8. Identify if there is anything you need to learn.

9. Have a process to measure, review and revise progress regularly. This will support you in navigating your path forward successfully.

10. Ask yourself these two self-reflection questions:

- would I rather give this a go, even if it doesn’t work out, than spent the rest of my life wondering what might have been?

- can I live with the consequences if it doesn’t work out or if I choose not to do it?

The bottom line:

Life isn't about taking risks. It is about knowing which risks to take. Only take calculated risks. Anything else is just taking a gamble. That applies to your work or business too.

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