What comes to mind when you hear the word risk? Does it excite you? Does it fill you with fear?
Most of us probably fall somewhere in the middle, and want a little more context and clarification to provide an answer. That’s what risk does. No matter where you fall in your preference or aversion for it, you agree that risk equates to a giant question mark.
And that’s one reason people tend to shy away from risk. It’s uncertainty. It’s unknown. It lives in a gray area.
But to make any sort of advancement, whether it be personally or professionally, you have to take some risks. Stepping forward in any capacity is an act of faith. You can do it confidently with your chin up, or holding your breath with your eyes closed, like Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
If you identify more with Indy, there is one way to relieve some of the anxiety. All it requires is a fairly simple mindset shift: consider the risk an experiment.
Experiments naturally release some of the tension from risk. They are time-bound, offering some sense of control. They also don’t guarantee success, but lean optimistically toward it. However, if failure follows, it’s much easier to dismiss because, well, it was just an experiment.
The next time you want to try something a little risky, try adding a deadline and considering it an experiment. Framing it for yourself that way might just give you the confidence you need to take that next step.
And better yet . . .
Your experiment will be more likely to succeed if you build in some accountability. Even if it’s a personal goal that you’re trying to achieve, tell someone about it. This measure gives you more skin in the game, and pushes you a little more than if you just act in a vacuum.
Change Your Environment
Is your environment set up for this change? For example, if the risk involves adding a second service, have your members been communicated to clearly, outlining their options, and that this will be a six-month trial? Does everyone understand the “why,” and benefits?
If the risk is a personal one, let’s say starting a morning running routine, are you setting out everything you need the night before to make it easier to get out the door? Have you communicated to your family why you want to try running in the morning? Are you waking up with ample time to accomplish your goal rather than continually hitting snooze?
Every effort you can make, including building new habits, to complement your experiment will give you a better outcome.
Ask for Feedback
The other fantastic benefit to experiments is that they can be initiated more than once. Whether you succeed or fail, you can acquire feedback from others (or reflect if it’s a personal goal), and then refine and relaunch.
Whether you’re diving head-long into risk, or treating it as an experiment, the other option for reducing uncertainty is by taking calculated risks. Do your homework, and don’t expect someone to do it for you. Pray, reflect, talk to others, research, and then feel good knowing that, even if the outcome is less than desired, you put in the work.
Plan for Disruption
Even by doing everything listed above, it’s still quite possible that your train will get derailed. And the best way to prepare for it is to plan for it. Have contingencies, manage expectations, and do everything in your power to ensure success. In the end, though, it’s still called risk for a reason. However, every risk is an opportunity for growth, and there is always value in personal and professional growth.