For a long time in my life, I had never thought of myself as someone who has a habit of taking risks.
We seem to have a larger-than-life notion on the habit of taking risks. Inspired by stories of men and women who have demonstrated heroics like Philippe Petit, the French high-wire artist or actors like Jackie Chan who perform their own stunts, we seem to believe that risk-taking is not for us, the ‘faint-hearted’. We put these heroes on a pedestal and worship them.
I used to believe likewise for several years.
However, over the last many years, I believe quite otherwise.
Taking risks in life
We too negotiate a life that is uncertain and sometimes, risky.
Life sometimes deals a blow that fells us. We get stuck in situations from where wriggling out, however vital, becomes difficult. We swim in uncharted waters, sometimes with no idea of where we are headed. In some cases, we choose a path voluntarily like a high-wire artist but things don’t work the way we planned and opting out midway is not easy or even possible.
In my case, I started off in a Finance role and after spending more than a decade there, I moved into HR (Learning & Development) at the age of 37 – my high-wire act. People advised me that I was taking risks and quite unwarranted at that.
In Learning & Development, I began as a Process Trainer. I later swam out of the Process Training infinity pool into the ocean of Behavioral Skills. The comfort of a calm pool disappeared when I entered the turbulent ocean. Swimming in the ocean required a very different set of competencies.
Later, I moved into the grey area of Leadership – managing a Learning & Development Function by the time I was 43. In about 3 years from then, I was the Global Head of Learning & Development with a blue-blooded multinational.
In the next high-wire act of my life, from a stable corporate job, I stepped out on my own 5 years ago. This step was like leaping off a cliff with a parachute on hoping that the parachute would open…in time. Thankfully, it did open and I landed softly on the ground.
Straddling two worlds
I spent a long time doing corporate consulting, training and coaching but in parallel, I also ventured into the social sector. This was like walking on two different planets each with its own rules of gravity. Inside the social sector, the familiar corporate rules were not to be found. Today, with the passage of time, I comfortably straddle the two worlds – the corporate and the social sector. I have learned to switch gears and sometimes, the vehicle itself.
Meanwhile, I had decided to take my writing seriously. Earlier, when I used to write, including for the print media, life was very different. I would meet with sub-editors face-to-face in newspaper offices carrying a hard copy of my article. No emails then! After waiting endlessly in the corridors to meet them, if and when I got to meet them, their response would be lackluster. I only got to hear, ‘we will let you know!’ Thereupon began a game of anticipation, opening the newspaper every day to see if the article was carried. My joy knew no bounds when my article appeared there. Some never got carried and I didn’t receive any information, either.
Things have changed dramatically now for writers.
In the new ecosystem of writing, I am my own publisher. This is like being thrown into the deep end with no lifeguards in sight. I have gone into self-study mode. There are new rules to be followed: website design, social media platforms, reader behavior, self-promotion, headlines, keywords, and SEO-related stuff. While I have the advantage of reaching a global audience, I have to vie for those milliseconds of my reader’s attention span. Another planet, different rules.
The journey continues.
Everyone is taking risks
The point I make is that we are all risk-takers. Let us not be lulled into believing otherwise. We take our own risks in our context. Don’t believe people when they tell you that you don’t take risks. (Read my article on how you could defy people’s narrow opinion of you in You could be a Croatia too!)
In my view, every time we step into something new, it is a risk. Yet, taking that risk, we step forward.
In these fast changing times, we are living a life of uncertainty and volatility, both at work and at home. The new world aided by technology is changing the landscape every second and bringing the unfamiliar to our doorstep every single day. With everything unfamiliar, there is a risk of not knowing how things will turn out. Nevertheless, we go forth with courage and hope.
Much like Jackie Chan.
You see, I know you!
PS: My Quote #262: ‘Not willing to take risks’ is the new risk.
May I help you in imagining a new future for yourself in this uncertain world? If you are game, join several others who have signed me up for Life or Career Coaching. Contact me at [email protected].
Face the new world with courage, hope…and, with my support, a plan.