Normally a word that evokes negative emotions and something that we by nature want to shy away from.
“The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing very quickly, the only strategy that’s guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” These words of wisdom are from Mark Zuckerberg, chairman and CEO of Facebook, the world’s most popular social media platform. Zuckerberg also ranks among the top 10 richest people on this planet; his net worth is estimated to be nearly $70 billion.
No one would have ever heard about this successful entrepreneur had he not taken risks to try something new. The risks he took helped him rise from amateur computer programmer to co-founder of the world’s third most popular website. Let’s find out about the importance of taking risks in your career.
Yes, comfort zones are dangerous and can mean the doom of your career. Invariably, millions of people fall into comfort zones and won’t progress beyond a certain point. The reason is simple: most people don’t want to leave a steady job with lucrative pay and some level of seniority.
However, staying in your comfort zone can only lead to one outcome: a stagnant career. You may get job promotions and pay increases, but these will happen because of your seniority and not necessarily because of your skills, experience, and excellent work.
This has a cascade effect too. Stagnation leads to complacency, meaning you may not try to upgrade your skills unless it becomes absolutely necessary for the job. This in turn means you will be automatically disqualified for better-paying jobs that require higher level skills.
If you don’t wish to stay within the confines of a comfort zone and want more from your career, it is imperative to take risks. It’s also worth remembering: success doesn’t come automatically—you need to strive for success.
Having a long tenure with one employer doesn’t necessarily imply a continuum of employment. We live in an era of mergers and acquisitions, economic change and lately a world-wide pandemic. You are prone to lose a job, even after long-standing service, if new owners decide your role is redundant within the new organizational setup.
And if you’ve been complacent about your skills and career growth, as I mentioned earlier, you are at high risk of losing a career, not merely a job.
Taking risks helps circumvent the dangers of redundancy. Changing jobs selectively and when necessary keeps your skills updated while also enriching the experience. Varied experience across diverse functions in a single role is something that employers look for today. Hence, taking risks can actually help save your career and prevent unemployment.
I’ve taken on roles that were quite diverse and outside my comfort zone. I can remember clearly thinking that maybe this time I’ve gone too far…time and time again. But, it all worked out…eventually. Now there were times when I was fired from a job, but I was still able to use that experience to improve myself and to know what situations and circumstances to avoid in the future.
There’s an old saying: “If you don’t build your dreams, someone else will hire you to build theirs.” I’m not saying you should never work for someone as an employee. In fact, you should put whatever you’ve learned to test while working and gain experience from work. Working will also help you to expand your social and professional networks, and update your work skills so you can earn more money.
But sometimes, you may find yourself saying ‘Enough is enough.’ There may come a time when you say, (as I did), “I’m not exactly sure what I want, but I know what I don’t want, and that’s to continue to work here. “
In 2001, I quit my job after working there 13 years and made the leap to full time self employment. Was it scary? Yes. Was the future clear? No. Leaving a decent paying job and company car was difficult, but not as hard as I thought it would be. The senior Management staff were not only unprofessional, but borderline abusive. I could not continue to work there and keep my dignity and self respect.
Could I have just gone to another job? Of course. Were other job opportunities out there? Again, of course. But for some people, there comes a time when you’re not ‘taking the leap’, you’re ‘leaping to take’. You’re leaping into the world of entrepreneurship in order to take your life back. Granted, this choice isn’t for everyone, but at that time in my life, it was something that I thought I needed to do. I needed to find out if I had what it takes to build a business and be my own boss for a change. For the first time in a long time, I felt alive.
Fear can cause people to do a lot of things. Fear can not only guide people to not do certain things, but can also guide people to do things as well. Fear can both stop you in your tracks, or cause you to run as fast as you can.
Now there’s a good type of fear, and a bad type of fear.
They type of fear you can have when you first find out that you’re going to have a baby is a normal, good type of fear. You don’t fear for the baby, you fear that you’re not going to be the best parent you can be. That’s a healthy type of fear.
An example of a bad type of fear would be that you think you are trapped in a job with no way out and not options. You are fearful if you stay, and you’re fearful if you think about leaving. That’s not healthy.
But I think we all have it in ourselves to know when we encounter a good type of fear. The normal type.
It’s normal to have some uncertainty about ‘leaping to take’ when you’re considering leaving your job to venture out on your own. But with a healthy dose of self confidence and the ability to piece together some different skill sets, you could actually show the world that you are truly amazing and that you do have what it takes after all.
Smooth seas never made a good sailor. Hence, taking risks is necessary to gain vital experiences in both work and life. Risks come with inherent insecurities and dangers, and it’s vital to face them because it’s how we learn new things. Above all, taking risks brings out qualities in us that we might not know existed.
History bears witness to the fact that dangers and risks bring out the best in humans. Taking a risk brings out your best abilities and helps you to think outside the proverbial box. The knowledge and experience you gain by taking risks will give you a boost of confidence.
It’s worth remembering that nothing great in your life is possible without your taking some degree of risk. That doesn’t mean you make foolish decisions or throw caution to the wind. There is a strong link between risk-taking and having a successful future; however, this simply means you take risks after calculating the odds for succeeding and focusing on the objectives you wish to attain.
How many times have you heard someone say, “If I can do it, you can too.”?
Well, I did, and you can also.
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