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How to prepare yourself to take calculated risks?




These are words that some of my clients use to describe their feelings on what stops them from taking calculated risks in their career.

An inability to take risk, results in

  • Lack of growth

  • Boredom

  • Status-quo

  • Regret of not being able to do what they want.

So the question comes to - how do they like to do the trade-off between risk and comfort: Make peace with the discomfort of taking risks or be ok with the lack of growth/status-quo?

While both may look like a lose-lose option, it need not be. What is required is a little reframe and some preparation.

Below are lessons learnt in conversation with clients who manage to get better in risk taking.

  1. Unknown devils appear scarier than they are until you really care to look closer:

If you have been completely risk-averse/ very conservative in your approach to life, the very thought of taking a little risk can freak you out.

That's because, an unknown devil appears scarier than it really is. The first step to build resilience is to get a little comfortable with the devil one day at a time :-)

A tryst with the unknown devil will mean, training yourself in choosing options that you don't usually prefer in the frequency you prefer like: take a different route to your office (where you anticipate delays/detours), Sample a different cuisine which you assume you may not like, learn a skill not in your comfort zone etc.

Ensure that these activities don't have major consequences when they go wrong.

We start there and over time take medium risks and build the overall appetite.

2. Taking risks does not equate to performing dare-devil stunts:

In his book, "Originals", Adam Grant talks about people who are successful in taking risks:

The most successful originals are not the daredevils who leap before they look. They are the ones who reluctantly tiptoe to the edge of the cliff, calculate the rate of descent, triple-check their parachutes, and set up a safety net at the bottom just in case." 

Most people fear risks because they equate it to something that cannot be done by them as it requires "leaps" of faith. In reality, taking risks is about calculation and planning. It definitely takes your intellect and time. However it does not require your blind faith. Do the math, check for realistic outcomes and make a call with all that you have got.

3. Fallacy of one right choice:

Most people lose time in finding the perfect choice. Their inability to take risk stems from their penchant for perfection. Sometimes there is no one golden ticket. There are choices and there are consequences. You pick the one whose consequences are tolerable to you. Multiple small choices made over time lead to better rewards.

4. Using both Synthesis & Analysis

Most of us use analysis as default method of decision making. While it has its place in rationalising our choices, ability to synthesise - framing, grouping, connecting could give us a different kind of intelligence to make decisions. Using synthesis reduces the fear of the unknown as it yields patterns to make sense with when there is less information that is known.

5. Accepting failure

Risk taking involves an ability to accept failure. Expectation of only success creates disappointments and prevents growth.

More on failure here.

What helps you to take calculated risks?

#executivecoaching #coaching #risktaking

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