Why You Should Stop Being a Wimp

Last Updated Aug 3, 2011 3:33 PM EDT

Have you ever met a truly successful wimp?

I didn't think so. Sure, perhaps a wealthy wimp, but having money doesn't necessarily mean success. (And not having money doesn't necessarily mean failure.) Michael Van Osch writes that he's never met a happy wimp--advice that he gleaned from his mentor, Donald "Moe" Targosz. I think Mr. Targosz may be onto something.

Who succeeds in the world of work? It's not the person that sits back and takes no chances.

Business owners cannot build their businesses by being wimpy. They take financial and personal risks. They evaluate the market and see what services are missing and try to jump in there or they say, "Hey, I can do a better job than the people already out there." Sometimes (frequently) they commit themselves to pay other people's salaries before they know for sure if they'll bring in enough income to pay their own.

Successful sales people have to go out every day and risk rejection in order to sell their products. You cannot sit at home (or at your desk) and expect customers to call. If you are easily upset at being told no, you won't be successful in this area.

Senior VPs didn't get there by keeping their head down and doing precisely what their bosses asked of them. They looked for new opportunities. They suggested new paths for the business. They made decisions that perhaps the rest of us wouldn't make, because others might think they are stupid. They didn't go home at night and complain that they weren't being promoted. They asked for promotions, spoke up in meetings, and put themselves in the path of rejection every day.

Creative geniuses didn't achieve genius status just be drawing one picture, designing one ad campaign or auditioning for one play. They succeed because they recognize that they have something to offer and they do not give up. They show their portfolios. They play their violins for audition after audition. They seek out feedback, teachers and mentors to show them where their mistakes are and what they can do better.

A lot of us have tendencies that incline us to be a little on the wimpy side. It's much easier to take the safe path. And, honestly, there's nothing wrong with being safe. But just as being safe reduces your risk of failure, it also reduces your risk of success.

Now, this isn't advice to go in to your boss and announce loudly that you quit because some woman on the internet told you to. It isn't advice to be irrational. it isn't license to be rude. Wimps are rude. Strong people are politely firm. You must think through your plans--you must have plans in the first place. But it is advice to take your risks where there is potential for payoff. It is advice to speak up in a meeting. It is advice to work your tail end off and then ask your boss for the recognition you deserve.

In short, stop being a wimp.

Hat tip, Amy Alkon.

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Photo by Brett Jordan, Flickr cc 2.0

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