“You have to risk going too far to discover just how far you can really go.” — T.S. Eliot
As you finish up completing you final business tasks for 2017 and start looking at your plans for 2018, ask yourself these questions:
⋅ Have I taken enough risks with my business or career?
⋅ Am I pushing myself (and my business) to be better or am I on cruise control?
⋅ What risks am I willing to take (or should take) for 2018?
⋅ Have you pushed yourself too far (like T.S. Eliot says) so you know just how far you can really go?
For most small business owners and working women, risk taking is hard to do. We are afraid to put ourselves out there and take those risks. However, when you look at the most successful people, boy, have they taken risks (and learned from them along the way). Think about a time when you felt most proud of yourself. I bet you it most likely was a time when you stepped out of your comfort zone and took a risk. Each risk after the first one, gets easier and easier so don’t think just do! And really try to push yourself not only past the comfort zone but way past your limit.
Most women as well as small business owners, want to play it safe. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t cause a “scene.” But if we do that, how do we know what we can really accomplish? When I was a teenager looking to decide what college I would attend, my high school counselor said to me, “Why not try and attend The Air Force Academy?” Mind you, I didn’t know anything about the military and women were just starting to attend the Academies. We were outnumbered, 9-1. I had not even thought about going into the Air Force, but I did want to attend a great university that focused on new technology, math and science. I’m from Georgia, so Georgia Tech was the logical choice, but my Dad encouraged me, saying, “Why not? Why not try it out. What would be the worst thing that could happen? You could come back and go to Georgia Tech!” Well, after I accepted my nomination to the Air Force Academy and touched down in Colorado Springs, four years later I graduated from that fine institution and was even kissed at Graduation by the President of the United States, Ronald Regan (shows you how old I really am!). I wouldn’t have traded a minute of my experience at the Academy, the wonderful people I met, ultimately my husband to be, and the great opportunities that I had just because I took that one risk and dared to try a new, unfamiliar experience and along the way pushed myself past my limits to be more than I ever thought possible.
I look back on that experience and understand how life changing risk taking can be. I now thrive on taking risks because I’ve seen how transformational these decisions can be for you, as well as energizing. Even when I try something and it doesn’t work out as I have planned; I have realized that those lessons are just as invaluable to me as the successful ventures. I found out just how far I can really go.
So, I’m asking you. Are you finding out how far you can go or just playing it safe? I know, trust me, how difficult it can be to psyche yourself up to take the risk and chance it. However, the outcome and the learning are so worth the risk. You will not regret the decision one bit. You just need a little help along the way.
So here are 5 lessons I have learned on my journey of risk taking that I’d like to share with you. I hope these will help you in 2018 to take more risks and push yourself past your limits. You will be amazed and inspired!
1. R – Realize that it is up to you to take the first step. You can get advisors (like my counselor and my Dad) or friends to help you in your decision making, but you have to take the first step. I know you can do it and a coach is just the person to help you along the way.
2. I – Ignite your desired outcome. You need to create that fire within you; that desire of what you hope to achieve by taking that risk. What are you looking to achieve? See the possibilities that this new avenue can bring to you. I told myself, “If I go to the Academy, I can get a world class education and learn about the most fascinating use of science and technology that there is.” What are the wonderful desired outcomes you hope to achieve. Maybe as a small business owner, if I take a risk and reach out to the top small business owners in my field, I could learn some of the most insightful tips in running a business. If I never tried, I could never reach that desired outcome.
3. S – See the possibilities and not the stumbling blocks. I know taking a chance can be hard, but you never know you can achieve your goals and your dreams if you aren’t trying. See the wonderful possibilities that can occur if you try. Don’t focus on the stumbling blocks. Sure by taking this risk, you might not achieve your desired outcome, but you will sure be closer to your dream for trying (you will know one possibility to not try again). As Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,” when he was working on his light bulb invention. He sure saw lots of possibilities and kept trying until he found one that worked.
4. K – Know that you are much stronger than you think you are. I certainly didn’t believe that I was stronger than all the men at the Academy, but I did know that I was much stronger than I thought I was. Each day that I was in Basic Training and beyond, provided me more opportunities to grow stronger. In every challenge I have been faced with, I have found that I am much stronger than I thought I was. What about you? Are you stronger than you think you are? Take a risk and see how far you can go.
5. S – Set the bar high. Again, if you sit on the sofa and don’t even try, how do you ever know what you can achieve? Why not set the bar extra high to push yourself and even if you don’t make it to the top the first time, you can see just how far you can go and continue to work on doing even better. Some people like to set low expectations because they feel that they can achieve them. Well, duh? Why even waste the energy if you already know you can do it? Why not instead, push yourself a little bit harder and set the bar high and who knows maybe you can really leap that high! I know that many companies thrive on setting low expectations, but why not be like Steve Jobs and push the boundaries. It’s not always easy but it’s certainly fun, energizing, and thrilling. I would rather have a life like that than one of boredom and playing it safe. Your choice! What will you choose in 2018?
Once you take the first step, you will find it to be easier. Therefore, if you find this risk taking a bit challenging, take a small step first and work on this skill each day. You don’t have to go for the whole enchilada. When you feel the energy and the momentum shift, you will not only want to take more risks but take bigger steps. Practice in this case, does help to make you perfect, for you will see the wonderful possibilities in front of you. Your potential will be unlocked and you can reach for the stars. This year, a real dreamer and risk taker passed away from this earth; someone I really admire and look up to, Neil Armstrong. He took risks and made it to the moon. He dreamed big, set the bar high, and made it. Let’s all take “one small step for man(or woman) and one giant leap for mankind.” I’m here to help you on your journey as a coach for women and entrepreneurs. Everyone needs a little help. Take a risk and reach out to a coach who can help inspire, motivate and support you along the way. Here’s to your risk taking, kick butt attitude and success in 2018!
“Do one thing everyday that scares you.” — Eleanor Roosevelt