Career Trends: Take the risk or lose the chance

4 min read

Edition: August 27th, 2021
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS


Taking strategic risks in an essential component of being an entrepreneur. (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

The greatest threat to our success as entrepreneurs is and will always be our fear of taking strategic risks. Think about some of the biggest companies that failed to pivot or drive towards innovation. As they maintained the status quo, disrupters and innovators took over and forced many of these companies to close shop for good.

The pandemic encouraged us to make difficult choices quickly, to dream in ways that challenge your confidence, and to be intentional in how you do business.

Think about the last time you had a chance to take on a new opportunity, be vulnerable, or be present as a business owner in a way that puts people before profit.

‘Take the risk or lose the chance’ is a mantra all entrepreneurs should live by. Create opportunities, partnerships and increases your awareness as a leader and entrepreneur.

Why we are inherently opposed to taking risks? 

There is science behind this. The decision-making areas of the brain are composed of roughly 80% excitatory cells and 20% inhibitory cells.

In children, the excitatory cells are dominant, which means children are generally more open to taking risks and trying new things.

As we get older, our inhibitory cells start to take over, so we are hesitant to take risks the older we become. Our bad experiences also feed our fear.

Imposter Syndrome 

The Imposter Syndrome is a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. Before we decide to take risks, we are faced with cognitive, emotional and experiential barriers that tell us we shouldn’t.

When you became aware of this, create a system that allows you to see beyond your fears and take the strategic risk needed to move forward.

Guiding principles to know when to take a risk

There are three guiding principles that you can use which will assist you to effectively self-assess opportunities by addressing your cognitive and emotional responses, so that you can recognise when a risk is worth taking and when it’s not. 

Here are those 3 guiding principles:

1. Be your authentic self: This will give you clarity of thought.

  • This principle is all about walking, talking and engaging as your authentic self.
  • Being aware of your skills and capacity as a leader will ensure you are not taking on opportunities just to take them on.
  • When an opportunity presents itself, you should ask yourself if this opportunity aligns with your overall goals.
  • Being vulnerably bold raises our awareness and ensures we are intentional about how we engage with others.
  • The most critical step to taking risks is taking them while grounded, taking the risk from a place of clarity.
  • When we are approaching opportunities with a clear mind:
  1. We can make decisions quickly, allowing us to move beyond them or accept them with confidence.
  2. Maintain momentum
  3. Strengthen our ability to make difficult decisions
  4. Help eliminate the imposter syndrome that we can feel when stepping into new opportunities

2. Be courageously curious: Research your opportunities.

  • As entrepreneurs, we feed into our desires of being courageously curious by starting our own business or taking on a new client even when we are working at full capacity.
  • Being courageously curious is all about researching opportunities before closing the door. The more you learn, the more courage you embrace.
  • Without the courage to ask difficult questions, many of us would have never stepped into the world of entrepreneurship. 

3. Care enough to connect: Add value to your personal & professional relationships.

  • As a leader, you will find yourself moving through your day checking off your to-do list only to miss out on opportunities to connect with others.
  • When we fail to truly connect with others, we are susceptible to fear and find ourselves taking the experiences of others and making them our own.
  • We must give ourselves permission to be fully present when engaging with others and understand that human collisions are essential for growth.
  • As we build our personal and professional network, it is important to make others feel as if they matter beyond a transactional relationship.
  • When we are intentional in how we connect we are more likely to receive valuable feedback when we require it. 


(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the above mentioned article are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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