“Be curious - not judgmental” - Walt Whitman
Having been in business for the past 18 years, I always get asked, “Will you tell us your story? We’d love to hear what risks you took.” I dutifully proceed to answer the question without wondering why they ask this in the first place.
What is so different about my story? I’ve wanted to run a business since I was a 10 year old hawking season pass tickets at Great America. I see now that the differentiating factor between my story and the stories of others has been in a re-evaluation of the infamous and sometimes daunting words, “take a risk.”
We usually see a risk as a drastic step with dire consequences if you fail. If you succeed, it’s either because you were lucky or you happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Do yourself a favor and, just for a moment, change your perspective. Consider that risk taking is a prerequisite for success. Suddenly, risks in life and in business are small and conquerable. They transpire daily, whether you realize it or not. What if we reconceptualized risk from equating it with danger to equating it with opportunity? What if we simply changed our perspective to view these “risks” as chances? Once you re-analyze, you’ll see that taking a risk actually means taking a chance to transform yourself and your organization.
Transformation is key to unlocking your full potential. With a transformative mindset, you will accept the fact that change is your only constant. Without it, your risks will continue to feel perilous and all of your opportunities will pass you by.
If you are ready to transform, ask yourself these three questions:
1) What is holding you back? Identify it.
- Everyone sets boundaries for themselves, whether it’s conscious or unconscious. Limits exist in our minds and we tend to resist pushing them. In moments where we’re offered a chance, we reiterate our self-imposed limitations. In reality, these are the small chances we should take every day.
- Pay attention to times you hold back. You inhibit your potential by deciding that you do not have a chance to succeed. Change your boundaries by changing your phrasing. Say, “I have a chance,”” instead of, “I can’t.”
2) What does transformation mean to you? Live it.
- Taking a chance is personal. Transformation depends on your perspective of a situation. If you feel scared about something, you may see an opportunity as a ‘risk’ and hesitate to transform. But if a person feels excited about an opportunity, they will see it as a chance to succeed.
- Begin to view your opportunities from the perspective of chance, and watch yourself transform through the experience. This will help you adopt a chance-taking mentality.
3) How did you feel after the last chance you took? Question it.
- Always be curious. Internalize your experiences to gauge how your chances are transforming you. Question and maintain a sense of curiosity regarding the daily tasks that lie before you. Dig deeper.
- If you came out of an experience with a good feeling, you’ll be more likely to develop a chance-taking mentality. That is the goal: Seeing these small chances on a daily basis and making a difference in your outlook down the line.
So, stop taking risks. Start taking chances. These are every-day opportunities that can transform you and—by association—your organization. Take a chance to apply for a new position you might be more passionate about. Take a chance to be curious about something outside your normal area of expertise. Take a chance to put yourself out there and make a mistake.
Take it from me, there’s always a possibility that something could happen!