No power in the 'verse can stop me.
- Kaylee (Firefly)
Life is about choices. Do I want to fight my 3-year-old to get dressed faster, or do I want to play with him and have a really fun morning, but be 10 minutes late to work? Do I want to take that new job, or stay comfortably where I am? Do I want to be a keynote speaker at a conference, or say no and attend like my peers?
This Harvard Business Review blog post got me thinking about risk... and I don't think I take enough of them. I have definately taken a few, and they have all worked out perfectly. Some ended in massive failure, but what I learned from that failure prepared me for another task later.
My first big risk was college. Upon graduating high school, I left my home state of Georgia and moved over to Texas, finding a roommate from the university's off-campus housing department (because all the dorms were full). Best risk ever.
About a year out of college, I quit my high tech marketing job to work at a high tech recruiting firm. It was a blast! Then the economy tanked and there weren't any jobs to recruit for. So they asked if I would like to spend a week in Boca Raton getting trained on how to become an account executive and recruit jobs (instead of people). I'm no salesman. I couldn't sell girl scout cookies to my own mother. But I figured it would be interesting to take the class, so I did. I made sales calls for about a month after that, to no avail. The company closed about 3 months later. FAIL. But what did I learn? Well, I definately reinforced to myself that I'm no salesman. :-) I also learned that I enjoy solving problems. When the problem was no jobs to recruit for, I decided to try and solve it by learning how to get more jobs for the company to help with. I learned that as a salesperson, marketing is vitally important. Even the basics! If I didn't have any collateral to give my prospect, there was no way they'd ever think of me when they needed to hire someone. Actually spending a couple months in sales was really the best marketing experience I could have gotten.
I've been at my current company for more than 6 years now, and have taken relatively few risks, but have been fortunate to have opportunity find me. I did take a professional presenting course through our Executive Briefing Center, and was encouraged to go take an improv comedy class. That was a spectacular risk! Standing in a class with 15 other people being spontaneous for 2 hours a week, enouraged to fail. We were taught that "there is no such thing as failure, just unexpected results." Most fun I've had in the last 5 years!
Recently, I was asked to keynote at a user conference. It's only 50-75 people, but it will be my first time truly in the spotlight telling a story. It's a risk. I'm SUPER excited about it... but this time, failure is not an option!
As the article I referenced above mentions, the key to risk is preparation. So I've hired my professional presentation instructor to help me prepare for my keynote, and my improv training will undoubtedly prove very valuable. In this instance, there should be minimal risk of failure. I'm ready!