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The Importance of Taking Risks in Your Career

Fri, 11/09/2012 - 4:26pm | by Guest Contributor

Some people are content to let their careers develop in a meandering fashion, receiving promotions when they are due rather than asking for them, or even silently accepting that they may simply be stuck in the same dead-end job until the day they retire (or die of utter boredom). At the other end of the spectrum are those who take outrageous or ill-advised risks, such as making demands for things they are not due (like a promotion and raise they have done nothing to deserve, for example), making executive decisions without the backing of executives (on the company dime), or even selling company secrets to competitors in the hopes of getting a new job in the deal. All are unnecessarily risky and some are illegal. However, there is a happy medium. And if you want to enjoy a challenging and fulfilling career path you need to learn to take calculated risks that are ethical and legal, more likely than not to pay off, and that will ultimately help to advance your career. Here are a few important reasons to do so.

First and foremost, you should adhere to the adage "no risk, no reward". Playing it safe will only get you so far and then you need to take decisive action if you want to effect change. There are probably things that you hope for in your career; dreams you aspire to, goals you have set. Do you think anyone is just going to hand you the keys to the kingdom because you showed up? It doesn't work that way. You have to risk something at some time if you want to get noticed. There are plenty of people adept at blending into the background, flying below the radar, and virtually plodding along undetected because they do absolutely nothing that would cause others to notice them one way or another. If you don't find ways to make yourself stand out and be seen as a valuable and innovative employee, there's no reason for higher ups to take note and find ways to utilize your potential.

Of course, one of the biggest risks may come not from working your way up the ladder, but rather circumventing it entirely by striking out on your own. There's nobody to hold your hand or cushion the blow should you fail utterly in the arena of self-employment. But if you have the confidence to start your own business and pick yourself up and try again each time you stumble, you will learn and grow, ultimately reaping the many benefits that come with standing on your own two feet. You will be your own boss and everything you earn will go into your pocket or back into your business. On just about any career trajectory, this is considered the pinnacle of success. But it doesn't come without risking complete failure and overcoming your fears in the process.

There aren't always nets to catch you in life. While you can certainly insure yourself against some negative outcomes (by visiting or comparable sources for coverage), the truth is that in business, there are no guarantees. Sometimes you simply have to roll the dice and hope that you have gathered enough data to make an informed decision so that the outcome is in your favor. If you don't know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em, you could find yourself in hot water. But for those that take calculated risks, the likelihood of career advancement and job satisfaction is high.

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