T.S. Eliot famously said “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go.” This could not ring more true in business, with risk often propelling professionals and businesses to new heights. But, risk is often out of our comfort zone and many are reluctant to take those barrier-shattering leaps of faith.
As a former Marine, cancer survivor and highly successful serial entrepreneur, I’ve learned a thing or two about risk. If you’re happy languishing in a gelatinous pool of indifference and stagnation then, by all means, keep doing what you’re doing. If you’re ready to take a leap and change things for the better, here’s some wisdom to get you started:
1. Realize you take risks every day.
Getting up, answering the phone, and heading out the door are all risks, albeit minor ones. However, every time you do those things you’re putting yourself out there —you’re even risking rejection daily in your professional and personal life.
You do these things every day and survive. Trust me, it won’t kill you. You are very capable of risk-taking. Now it’s time to ramp it up. You’ve already got a toe in the water so jumping in the rest of the way isn’t as big a shock. Taking risks is a state of mind. Knowing you can do it on a small scale makes it a lot easier to start taking risks on a larger one.
2. Find comfort in the uncomfortable.
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. You don’t have to go sky diving or base jumping — although you certainly can if you want — but you do have to go beyond doing what you’re used to doing and stretch out into new territory.
Learn where you’re most comfortable, most skilled, and most proficient — and then step right past that to a place where you feel the most uncomfortable, the most uncertain, and the most unsure of yourself. That’s where the real progress begins.
Consider any world class athlete, artist, or entrepreneur. No matter what their area of expertise, they put in the hours and continually push the limits to achieve beyond what anyone thought possible. You don’t break world records — or break out of ruts — without making that push. 3. Risk it right now.
At this very moment you have everything you need. Sound impossible? It happens to be true; you just may not appreciate it. Do you have food, clothing and shelter? Then you have everything you need. And, once you live by this simple philosophy, taking risks becomes far easier.
The most important part of this notion is that most business opportunities don’t wait around, so take action now. Don’t make the mistake of waiting on someone or something to come along to make taking that leap of faith more viable.
“Perfect timing” is a fallacy—there are few if any such moments in life. Don’t wait so long that you can’t take a risk even when you want to, only to be consumed with remorse for what “could have been.” Now is the time to capitalize on opportunities that present. Make it so.
4. Do your own thing and do it your way.