5 Ways to Be Smart About Career Risk

Last Updated May 11, 2010 7:43 AM EDT

Careers risk: how much is too much?Being exceptional at anything involves risk. As the old saying goes, "nothing ventured, nothing gained," but the flip side is also true. The more you hope for, the more you open yourself up to failure. So for all those aspirational young careerists out their hoping to make exceptional work lives for themselves -- to climb to the top their field or make a real impact on how their organization does business -- how do you handle risk intelligently?
Of course there's no benefit into recklessly leaping into every opportunity and charging into every assignment. Sometimes there's a reason your gut is in a knot or your colleagues haven't suggested your idea first. But at the the same time, you don't want to be so risk averse you miss the big opportunities when they do (rarely) crop up. Blog My Global Career has some suggestions to help you find the right balance of career risk.
  • Trust your instincts. Don't wait for complete certainty on an issue before making a decision; it often arrives too late if it arrives at all. Once you get a good idea, don't incubate it-â€"act on it and work to make it happen.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you're in a job or doing a project for which you lack experience, have the courage to tough it out and ask for help. If you operate on fear instead-â€"the fear that asking for help will diminish you in the eyes of your boss or coworkersâ€"-you're setting yourself up for a disaster.
  • Unleash positive energy. Fear, stress, and uncertainty can be friends, not enemies, as long as you use them as motivators rather than as energy or action blockers. Get used to tolerating these uncomfortable feelings. Remind yourself that progress won't happen without taking a step forward, into the unknown.
  • Anticipate and act. Not making a decision is actually making a negative decision. Think like an athlete, and learn to position yourself where the action is likely to take place.
  • Learn from failure. The most important lessons we learn in life are those that result from failure. People are very forgiving as long as you've tried to do your best and acted with integrity.
(Image of tightrope walker by charbel.akhras, CC 2.0)
  • Jessica Stillman On Twitter»

    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.