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Intelligent Risks: Shattering the Fear of Failure

By Molly Carnicom on Thu, Apr 12, 2012 @ 12:00 PM |


You look down and realize every fingernail has been chewed to the shortest length possible; in fact the pointer finger may be too short. Ouch. Time to move on to the lip biting. What’s with the nerves? Stop fearing the possibility of failure as a repercussion of risk taking. Seriously, stop sipping out of your pessimist coffee mug, grab the opportunist mug, and get over it.

Taking intelligent risks occurs every day in business. You’re not the only one out there. Countless successful business leaders would not be where they are today if it weren’t for their endless curiosity, willingness to take risks, and hunger for success. So, what is it that is holding you back? I am willing to bet the answer is simple: fear of failure. Here are some steps you can take to overcome the fear of risk-taking from Craig Woodman:Take risks

  • Bulk up your confidence with triumphs that stem from taking small risks
  • Plan on success for your business
  • Recruit people who have muscle in areas where you are weak
  • Evaluate your accomplishments frequently
  • Assess your behavior regularly to make sure you are not taking pointless risks

Unfortunately, you may still fail. Don’t panic. There are 3 ways you can come back stronger:

  1. Fail quickly – experimenting can direct you to what your customers want
  2. Pilot through failure – encourage your team to try new things and drive growth
  3. Find your weaknesses and strengths – take your failure and improve through reinventing and reprocessing your product or service

You now have no excuse to not take risks. As long as they’re calculated and you’ve identified the outcomes, go for it. Still don’t think you can get started? Think about the worst possible scenario as a result of failure. Are you OK with that? Chances are it’s not really that bad. Now what are the chances that’s actually going to happen? Slim to none. You’re a smart person. Even if things don’t go exactly as planned, remember that the success you do have is better than the worst possible scenario you already identified, and decided you were OK with.

In fact, if your company typically ‘plays it safe’ and rarely takes risks, you will ultimately lose to your competitors who are willing to go out on a limb and experiment. Theodore Roosevelt sums it up well: ‘It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.’

How do you encourage risk-taking in the workplace? Let us know in the comments section below

Interested in reading up on successful risk-taking? Check out our Interview with Greg Heinemann, Senior VP at OLSON.

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