Best Practices in HR
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Libby Gill
  September 27, 2019

Reframing Risk-Taking As Opportunity

When you understand how to reframe risk-taking, you’ll stop avoiding risks and start advancing toward your dreams!

Think about some risks you’ve avoided in the past.  What were the sticking points that started you down the path of avoidance?  What kinds of excuses or rationalizations did you use to back away from change?  Read through the following risk-expanding tools to see if one or more can help you stick it to your sticking point.


Consider the worst-case what if’s.  Play out your fears to the worst possible outcome to see if the catastrophes rambling around in your head are actually legitimate. Say you’re an aspiring writer and you want to take on the company’s tourism newsletter to start you on that path, but you’re worried that you might not be good enough. Imagine the absolute the worst-case scenario of turning in a sub-par newsletter. Maybe the city’s tourism business will die overnight or you’ll being publicly shunned at the local supermarket for letting down the community.  Would either of these happen?  Probably not, but if you don’t consciously play out your concerns, you’re allowing your brain to do it unconsciously, often reaching a completely irrational conclusion. So shine some light on your darkest fears and watch them evaporate.

Put contingency plans in place.  Once you’ve gotten impending doom out of the way, consider some of your more realistic fears. What should you anticipate?  How might you mitigate some potential negatives?  If you’re worried about not having enough time to do a stellar job on that hypothetical newsletter, which may be a valid concern, how might you plan for that?   Rather than letting potential challenges shut you down, anticipate ways you can deal with them.  Maybe you could ask your spouse to pick up a little more childcare time or you could dedicate a weekend morning for head-down writing time. When you have contingency plans in place to cope with problems before they arise, you’ll be much more confident about tackling the risk in the first place.


Reframe the risk.  If the scope, timing or other specifics of a challenge are making you back down, consider redefining the parameters before declining altogether.  This reframing is part of the “simplify step” in the Clarify, Simplify & Execute process I describe in my book  You Unstuck.  For example, if you feel overwhelmed by taking full oversight of the newsletter, you could ease into it by writing an article or two before committing to the entire project.  Putting a toe in the water is a whole lot better than not getting wet at all.

Remind yourself how great you are.  And, yes, I mean that literally.  We’ve all got our special gifts, but most of us could use a little reminder from time to time.  Call a supportive friend for a pep talk when you  feel your confidence flagging or get out some visual reminders of your own success. When I spoke at an event alongside Colleen Barrett, former president of Southwest Airlines, she said that she kept a file of thank you letters from grateful passengers and read them to herself and her colleagues as reminders of what they’d done right.  Read your own CV, bio, or LinkedIn profile to remind yourself of all you’ve accomplished. After all, if you can talk yourself into believing something negative that’s not true, it should be pretty easy to talk yourself into believing something positive that is true, right?