Hello SOTGC community,
What are they going to do? Fire me?
I repeated this phrase jokingly in the final hours of my last job; but wondered if there was value in this mentality going into my new job. I found myself throwing out ideas and suggesting strategies that I probably would not have if I weren’t leaving in a week. And no, I don’t literally mean that I wouldn’t care if they fired me; because like you, I have bills to pay. What got me curious was the risk-taking aspect.
As a young professional working for a Fortune 500 company, I always sided on the more conservative end of risk taking. Mainly because I respected the tenured leaders who always seemed to get it right, I feared losing credibility if my ideas were too risky, and I thought that they probably already thought of it. I felt that the line for risk taking was narrow. I needed to execute ideas and strategies successfully to prove myself before I start taking huge leaps and failing. However, that feeling I know all too well kicked in: my “Aha!” moment.
If I can take risks like I did during the last week of my previous job in my new job, I could be considered either crazy or valuable. Either way, I would quickly get noticed so I decided to go for it. Plus, if I did get fired I could go back to eating cheese cubes for dinner like I did when I was in college.
During my first few weeks on my new job, my opportunity to take a risk came quicker than I thought. My leader threw me a ball that I could catch or dodge. She asked if I wanted to train internal staff and external customers on a new system rollout that I was not familiar with or I could pass and have someone else deliver the training. I did not have any time to learn the system but I decided to catch the ball and roll with it (pun intended). With some guides and references in hand, I facilitated my first three-day training session on a new system in an industry that was foreign to me. On day one, someone asked me a question that I did not know, let alone understand. I silently kicked myself for volunteering for the task and confidently responded with “Oh we will actually cover that tomorrow” when I was actually thinking WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?! I quickly wrote down the question and asked my manager during a break. I gracefully answered that question the following day and no one knew that I didn’t know what I was talking about.
Feeling overconfident, I decided to suggest a new delivery format to the next training session that would be more compliant. My ideas were apparently genius, because it was approved but I had to make it happen in three days. I started to kick myself again as I feverishly worked on it into the wee hours of Saturday night. I started to think that I was going to fail, but ended up executing it seamlessly after I asked myself the same thing that motivated me to do it in the first place: What are they going to do? Fire me?
My risk taking was well received and my senior director, a VP, and the CEO recognized my results. The recognition felt incredible and it made me realize why taking risks (in good judgment) was the best thing I could have done for my career. In summary, you’ll probably spend a lot of time kicking yourself when you most fear failure, but if you persevere, the rewards will be well worth it. If this article has inspired you to take that risk you have always wanted to take, leave a comment and share this blog on your favorite social media site.