Risk is one of those things that’s hard to quantify. Think about it. What exactly does it mean when someone says, “Take more risk.”
I was confused by this as well, until I began to find myself in situations where I had a unique choice to make. It didn’t have to be jumping off a cliff in Mexico or pouring my entire life savings into launching a startup.
It was more a matter of whether to follow the safe, proven route that would prevent me from having to stand out if I failed, or following my instincts about what I felt would be effective and exciting.
Things like wearing neutral business clothes, using company issued marketing materials, and speaking in a communal, non-authoritative way, would be considered safe and even “good enough.” If I branched out with my wardrobe, developed my own presentations based on the observations I made my marketplace, and spoke about my ideas with authority, I would be taking the risk of failure and embarrassment.
Feeling the thrill of the risk, I chose the latter, and it paid off in big ways. It got me noticed by my peers, bosses, and clients, who began to view me as confident, intelligent, and a promising resource to do business with, so my success rate went up.
Since then, I’ve come to see that taking risk has a pattern of benefits that come with it.
1.Risk gets you noticed
Most people will take the easy route, because in general the population lacks self confidence, and taking risk forces you to put yourself out there. You’re not just following the program when it comes to risk. Instead, you’re saying to those around you, “Look at my ideas.”
Because it’s rare for people to take risk, when you do, you’ll get noticed. And when you’re noticed, you’ll be thought of when it comes to advancing at work, or when clients are deciding who to do business with.
2. Risk creates change
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, and to mindlessly follow the habits you’ve been entrenched in for years. This is true for large organizations, small companies, and individual people alike. So if you want something to change, you’re going to have to do something different. Doing something different is uncomfortable and comes with a sense of the unknown. After all, you haven’t proven it’s effectiveness yet.
But taking this risk of lost time and unproven results, is the only way to create change, so it’s well worth the effort. Even if the initial plan isn’t effective, it will teach you more about what will and will not work, being productive in the end.
3. Risk makes you feel alive
There is a satisfaction to doing everything “right” and pleasing the world around you, but there’s also an undeniable thrill that comes from taking risk. The adrenaline that pumps through your body when you’re doing something in an entirely new way, is worth the risk on it’s own. In fact, I have found myself getting addicted to risk because of this feeling.
4. Risk creates a higher standard
When you begin taking risk and seeing the results it offers, a new standard begins to form in your mind. You are no longer satisfied with just enough, and know that in order to create something of excellence, you will need to go to the next level.
This kind of behavior pushes you or your company forward and sets a new standard. Soon, a new comfort zone is created where risk is the norm, and the rate at which you are working is higher than before.
5. Risk teaches you more about yourself
Because risk is usually an expression of your own ideas, it can teach you a lot about yourself. The more comfortable you are with exploring new abilities within yourself, the more aware you will become of just what lies inside you. And the more success you experience within those areas, the more confident you will become.
Are there downsides to risk? Sure. That’s why it’s called risk. You could put yourself out there in a big way, and fall flat on your face. But what if you don’t? The benefits are worth it. Evaluate where you are and think about where you want to be, and take the risks necessary to get there.