To Advance, Take A Risk

To Advance, Take A Risk

Why take risks?

When it comes to taking risks, women in any career, on any rung of the ladder, could learn a thing or two from entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes with every kind of temperament and work method. Some are deliberate and painstakingly meticulous, others fly by the seat of their pants. Some are exuberant, some quiet. Some are extroverts, others introverts.But the core trait that every entrepreneur must have is the willingness to take risks.

Willingness to take risks is not just one trait but a constellation of traits moving on some invisible axis in your psyche. To take risks, you must learn to accept ambiguity. When you attempt something new, you leave the old black and white world of certainties and enter a space of uncertainty. Maybe it will work and maybe it won’t. You’re in the zone of risk. Learn to accept it.

Part of willingness to take risks is the desire to accept failure. No, of course, you don’t want to fail, no one does. But no one bats 1,000 either. If you risk, sometimes you fail, and that’s just part of the learning process. Don’t take it to heart. You know who you are; don�t let a failure define you. Just learn from it and move on. As someone said, “every success is a transformation of an earlier failure, so if you fail, it is because you quit too soon.”

Is all of this a little anxiety provoking? Yes. Can you handle it? Yes.

You have to remember you are not alone. All people who step out and achieve great things are risk takers and all experience some moments of anxiety. Think Barbara Jordan, Maria Callas, Katherine Graham. Think Jackie Kennedy, fleeing her American icon widowhood to marry a Greek shipping magnate, then transforming herself again to return to New York to become a respected editor. Do you have to agree with everything she did? Of course not, but clearly, she dared to change and to transform herself into what she wanted to be eventually, not merely acquiescing to the way others wanted to perceive her.

So when you make a bold, professional move or speak your mind at a conference table full of men who may even question if you’ve earned the right to be there, and you begin to feel butterflies in your stomach, it helps to understand, that is part of the package. The most seasoned entrepreneur in the world still feels butterflies, just like the most experienced opera singer or matinee idol still feels stage fright; the trick is to keep it under control. People who are most comfortable being entrepreneurs are those who have a high tolerance for the unstructured and learn to accept ambiguity. No, they don’t know how the play is going to end, but they decide to enjoy whatever act they’re watching.

They have decided to take each day as it comes, take the necessary risks and do the best they can that day. As someone said – all you can do is the best you can, and usually, that is enough. So, take that risk. At the very least, you’ll respect yourself for having tried.

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