Risk Taking vs. Fear – which wins?

Risk taking is something that is a natural part of work and life.  For some it may seem risky to eat a yoghurt that is past the “sell by” date, where as for others they dont even think about the potential implications of doing so. The people in the boat sailing past the iceberg in the image above may not have considered the risks of the iceberg behind them turning in the water and capsizing them.

At work, being able to take risks is vital because otherwise how do you learn?  It might seem safe to do the same things all the time, but if the world is changing around you, then its definitely not the safe option.  So we need to become used to being “uncomfortable” and stepping into the unknown and here are some tips to help us.

  • Change something every day.  It may be as simple as sitting in a different chair at home, or moving your desk slightly to get a new perspective.  It keeps you on your toes and gets you used to change.
  •  What is your greatest fear?  Write down what is your greatest fear at work e.g. doing a presentation to the Board of Directors, meeting people and then not remembering their names, being made redundant, looking stupid in front of colleagues – then ask yourself – What is the worst that could happen if that situation occurred? – How would I overcome this?  If you are able to think through a situation ahead of time and find a potential solution it makes it less scary. That’s what we did prior to our expedition to the North Pole.
  • Accept that fear is in all of us.  Once you acknowledge that everyone has fears and it’s a natural part of life, you can look at them differently.  Think about how you can make fear a positive thing that works for you. For example, it might cause you to do more prep for that presentation, or create a way of remembering people’s names.
  • Change the word you use from fear to curiosity.  Whilst fear may bring on one type of emotion, try using the word curiosity instead.  This can open you up to want to gain understanding of something you have no knowledge or experience of, and  is often associated with anticipation or enthusiasm.
  • Look for a physical challenge.  Many people enjoy taking risks by embarking on a physical activity such as rock climbing or trekking.   Make a commitment to do something new this year that will challenge you.
  • Relax, and reflect.  Stepping out your comfort zone does not always have to be about activity. For some of you the risk might be to slow down, relax and take time for yourself.  I recommend Witherdens Hall a wonderful organic retreat, for a relaxing and reflective stay – you can even enjoy the magnetic bed!
  • Don’t be on your own.  Find a way to share your fears about risk with others because by doing so shows you are human and vulnerable.  This takes courage but also can help build rapport with others. Post a comment and share what you are going to do to take a risk today.



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