The Wisdom of Taking Risk

Recently at a Society of Professional Women’s luncheon featured journalist and author, Lu Ann Cahn spoke about living fearlessly by meeting your inner risk taker.  Cahn writes about her personal journey of how she rebooted and recharged her life in her book “I Dare Me.”  She had been feeling frustrated, stuck and desperately wanted to bring the life back into her life.   For one year, Lu Ann challenged her fears, pushed out of her Risk Taking to Live Fearlesslycomfort zone and did something different every day. Life opened up.

Risk on New Year’s Day

That afternoon as Lu Ann told her story; I observed an audience intently curious to learn more about her crazy dares from a New Year’s Day polar bear plunge to swinging on the trapeze and leaving her 40 year career to start a new one.  I thought about my own life and how taking risk is a critical element of leadership.

A Leader’s Effectiveness

In the latest study of women’s leadership styles conducted by The Radcliffe Public Policy Institute and the Boston Club, 86% of the women said that comfort with taking risks was very important in determining a leader’s effectiveness.  

Getting Comfortable with Risk Taking

How comfortable are you with risk taking?  Is there a tiny voice nagging you about setting more challenging goals?  Have you been criticized for not taking bolder actions?  Are you holding yourself back from pursuing a career change or the next level promotion?   If you said “yes” to any of these questions, you need to meet your inner risk taker.   

Here are 3 ideas from Cahn’s presentation I found particularly worth sharing.

1.  Give yourself daring assignments
As you allow for more risk taking, you’ll get into a cycle in which your self-confidence and power will be continually expanding.

2.  Take risks large and small, life will open for you
Taking risk means confronting challenges and having the courage to move forward through fear. Even the smallest risk-taken is an opportunity to standout and to present yourself as a leader.

3.  Nothing new happens when you say “no.”  Just say “yes”
Until we are willing to put ourselves out there and take a risk, we will never be able to achieve professional success and realize our potential.  It’s time to leave our comfort zone; time to go after what we’re passionate about; time to achieve our dreams and say “yes” more often — even in our personal life, too.

Finally, you don’t have to run away from home to change your life.  You do have to do something different.  No one can do this for you.  Stop waiting for someone to save you, or for some circumstance out of your control to change.  The change must come from you.

What will you decide to do today?


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  • Caren / October 14, 2015 at 10:03 am

    I love this post Peg! Such great information and takeaways from Lu Ann’s talk. I’m going to look for her book.

    • Peg Calvario / October 14, 2015 at 1:23 pm

      Thanks Caren. I Dare Me is a great read with some real nuggets of positivity.

  • Stephen / October 14, 2015 at 10:56 am

    Not just for Women, but us Men too!

    • Peg Calvario / October 14, 2015 at 1:24 pm

      You are absolutely right! Would love to hear how you are taking more risks in your life.

  • jennifer / October 16, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    The correlation between risk-taking and self-confidence is really important and a good point that people might not have the mindset to realize on their own, so i’m happy to see you painting out its value here. Fear is also a topic not often explored in our culture, but it’s amazing how it’s really behind the lack of risk-taking and whenever confidence is not always building but in lower places or more stagnant.

    And saying “yes” more often in personal lives, too, in healthier ways versus just agreeing to this or that without working in boundaries of self-respect, carries great value to it, too.

    Wonderful points here.

    • Peg Calvario / October 17, 2015 at 2:53 pm

      Thanks Jen for your thoughtful comments! I agree that fear can often paralyze us from taking even the smallest steps of action. While we gain confidence by moving forward.

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