Risk Versus Reward

My granddaughter who is 16 years old spent one month of the summer in Washington DC studying domestic and foreign affairs at George Washington University.  Of course, she used some of her time there to see the various sights in DC. 

On a visit to the Capital she caught sight of Elizabeth Warren and shouted Warren’s name very loudly to get her attention. Warren was gracious and agreed to have her picture taken with Zoe. To say my granddaughter was delighted is an understatement.  Here’s a quote from her Instagram page: “I met Elizabeth Warren today and I am one step closer to dying completely happy.”

My grandson who is 18 was also in Washington for the summer and he was working in the Capital.  He and I had a conversation about Zoe’s accomplishment, and we agreed that neither of us would have done it.  Zoe took a risk (embarrassment of yelling and maybe being refused the picture) and got what she wanted.  For her it was worth it.

A client recently came to me to help him find a job.  He had recently got a PhD in Public Health and was having no luck sending resumes out.  I suggested that he would be better off talking to people he knew about job possibilities.  Since he had just received his degree, I suggested going to his thesis advisor.

He found that shocking.  “Can I really do that?” he asked me.  He felt that talking to his thesis advisor about getting a job would not be appropriate.  Of course, there is a risk in making that call, but it is minimal.  He knew he had had a good relationship with the advisor.

We all must take risks at some time in our work and in our lives.  Deciding if it is worth it often must be done quickly. 

How can you be decisive in the moment?  Self-awareness is one part of the answer.  Knowing what your strengths and your intentions are is important.  If you are sure of your ability to do something and you know making this decision is important to your achieving your goal, then you will know what to do.  Confidence in what you can do and knowing what you want to do, helps you to make that decision in the moment.

For my grandson and me a picture with Elizabeth Warren was not worth the embarrassment and risk of shouting in the Capital building.  For my granddaughter in her words, “It was 100% worth it.”

My client also decided that calling his thesis advisor had minimal risk and had the potential of steering him to a good job in his field. He agreed to do it.

What will help you make quick decisions and take risks in the future?  Are you self-aware?  Do you know what your strengths are and feel confident about them?  Do you have a vision of what your work will give you, your company and/or the world as a result?  What are your current goals and what do you need to do get you there?

Answering these questions and others will make you more self-aware and will help you to decide whether to take a risk or whether to let it go.  To be happy at work you need to have the freedom to successfully take risks when necessary.

Working with a coach

If you shy away from taking risks or if you need some help in deciding on whether to take a risk, a coach can help.  My Value program starts with helping you to create a vision and assess your strengths, behavioral style, values, and needs so that you will better know what you have to offer.  If you would like some help becoming more self-aware, call me at 781-598-0388 or email me at asparker@asparker.com.


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