It is much harder to leave security than it is to take a risk.
In Thomas Stanley’s book, The Millionaire Next Door, he points out that the profile of your average millionaire generally includes getting FIRED from his previous job and starting his own business. That’s right, the ultra-risk-taking macho entrepreneur millionaire you know generally became successful because, quite literally, he had no other option. Of course their are the guys, like me, who seemed to have everything going well but that just wasn’t enough and we had to venture out on our own and forge our own paths in business and in life. But don’t kid yourself, that give-up-something-great-to-get-something-better mentality is the VAST exception.
Keep that in mind the next time you’re reading a book or blog by a successful person who just happens to be in the minority who was just naturally programmed to never accept “good enough”. If that’s not you, you need to learn how to get over your current “security” in order to venture out on a “risk”. (I put both of those in quotes because they’re often not reality, but just figments of our imagination.)
So for the majority of people who have a job, house, family, car payments and a steady income, how do you decide to make the jump and take the risk of leaving your steady paycheck behind and trying something else?
- Risk-taking is just a lack of knowledge. – If buying a business, writing a book, starting a band, quitting your job to take a new one or just being the first one at your work to try a ground-breaking new idea seems like a risk to you, then you simply need to study more. You need to make sure you understand how to take that business to a level of profitability before you buy it. You need to know how to effectively market your book or band and develop a following. You need to know that you have options for your livelihood before you tell your boss off and walk away (something I never recommend). And if you’re simply trying to get everyone at work to get out of their rut and change, you better be able to back-up your reason for the change with some hard evidence as you’ll undoubtedly be met with nay-sayers. Whatever it is, you can always trace an increase in risk to a lack of knowledge on the subject matter and vice-versa. Let me make this even more clear. If you consider a “standard” medical operation like removing an appendix as safe, would you consider the same operation under the same conditions safe if it was performed by your plumber? What’s the difference? The risk is mitigated when the procedure is undertaken by a knowledgeable doctor.
- Hedge your bet. – One of the cardinal rules of marketing is ONLY the consumer knows if the marketing is effective or not. They vote on their choice for great marketing by spending money. The same is true in almost any venture where you’re going out on your own. You really don’t KNOW that your customers, readers, listeners or coworkers are going to love the idea until it’s out there, right? Well then, in addition to becoming knowledgeable, make sure you have a backup plan… Or 2 or 3. Of course we all know of the stories of people overcoming impossible odds to make their ideas work. Heck, the entire 3m success can be built on the concept of passionate people overcoming all odds to bring their ideas to fruition. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team as a sophomore. Albert Einstein’s first 2 graduate thesis’ were rejected. A successful business owner friend of mine told me he was turned down by 27 banks before finding one who would loan him money for his first business. My point is not to throw the towel in because of adversity. My point is that consumers are impossible to predict, so if you’re going to bet the farm on an untried idea, you better have a few tried and true ideas in your back pocket to fall back on. Most entrepreneurs you speak with will tell you about their myriad failures that were necessary before becoming successful. They always had another plan and another way to succeed. Even at 3m where a culture of risk-taking and never accepting no is programmed into the culture, everyone knows there’s little risk of losing your job for pursuing that passionate idea. In other words, 3m developed that culture with a built-in hedged bet to encourage innovation.
- What is your time worth? – Though this is third item, this one is the most important. Most people grossly over-estimate what they’re capable of in a year but also grossly under-estimate what they’re capable of in 10 years. So what does that mean? We are likely to set goals for the next year that are unreachable but then either not set goals for longer-term or set drastically underestimated goals. If you always spend less than you make, you will never run out of money. But no matter what you do, you will run out of time. So how do you determine if you’re going to stay at your current job, position, or business? If you’re learning on a regular basis from those around you AND your given an opportunity to express your own talents and ideas then stay. The former is more important than the latter, but you should be able to do both. Keep in mind that you should be learning things that you couldn’t otherwise learn on your own. Notice, I did not say that you have fun at work or you have a reasonable wage with lots of perks. Those temporary benefits are important for someone who will live forever and so has plenty of time to find something better later on. However, if you’re not immortal, and you’re not learning at work on a regular basis, it’s time to move on. The reason for this is because with the knowledge you can be learning at an underpaying job, you can leverage that at your next job, business, or passion. That’s why people underestimate what they’re capable of in 10 years. It’s sometimes challenging for us to step outside of our situation today, whether good or bad, and view it as a step forward or backward in our 10 year goals because we’re just trying to make it day-to-day.
If after evaluating your situation, you’ve now determined that it’s most likely time to move-on, check out a few of my other blogs that might help you get started:
To your success, Bryan
P.S. If the concept of setting 10-year, or even 1-year, goals is a bit foreign to you, check out my blog on The 3 steps to become successful at anything…