Continuing with periodic posts in December about the major lessons learned throughout 2013, today I turn my attention to the matter of taking risks. Each of us takes risks daily to some extent. We do so in relationships we establish, goals we pursue, changes we attempt, causes we promote, work we devote much time to, and incalculable other small decisions made consciously or unconsciously. Some also choose to take more obvious risks on a grander scale that may be devastating or even deadly if unsuccessful.
We all live somewhere on a risk continuum and our perception of where we are on that continuum may or may not match others’ perception of the risk. It is difficult for me to imagine being on the extremely risk averse end of the continuum if I desire to make an impact in any area of life. Always playing it safe doesn’t appeal to me very much. There are too many needs and too much potential out there to stay only in the confines of the immediate, familiar, comfortable surroundings that bring little sense of risk.
I wrote about a month ago on the subject of taking chances and wrote in that post about the risk I felt launching the weekly Twitter chat #ESNchat in September for business professionals involved in their company’s enterprise social networks. I won’t repeat all of that content here, but as I reflect on 2013 and major lessons learned, the importance of taking that risk deserves a place in the top few lessons of the year.
The impact of that effort continues to grow in importance not just for me personally and professionally, but, I believe, for a much larger network of professionals worldwide. It has the potential of being a positive force in advancing the field of enterprise social networking – not so much because of what I’m doing, but because of the amazing people who are now involved with that weekly chat, and the value of their pooled insights being recorded week after week from which others can also benefit. It is filling a gap that I perceived to be there earlier this year. The success of the chat confirms that the gap is being filled.
I wouldn’t know some incredible kindred spirits around the globe I now know and communicate with weekly without taking the public risk of starting that Twitter chat. I would not learn weekly all that I’m learning for my own professional development and to help my company without taking that risk. As a side note, I am thrilled at the uptick in the quantity of requests for interviews, articles and speaking engagements that are coming my way as a result of contacts made over the past few months. That isn’t why I started the chat, but it does seem to be a consequence that will bring yet more opportunities to meet and work with some wonderful people I would not otherwise know.
In whatever area of your life you may be considering taking a risk, I encourage you to do your due diligence in weighing the possible outcomes. I also plead with you to not always follow the age-old advice of erring on the side of caution. You shouldn’t take enormous, life-changing risks daily, but you probably ought to do so at least periodically. For me, 2013 will be remembered in part as the year I started #ESNchat – perhaps a small things in the eyes of most, but a pretty big deal for me.
In the earlier post mentioned above about taking chances, I wrote:
“Sure, it’s possible that things might not turn out the way you wish. Taking the chance may cost you. But not taking chances is also costly. The minimum price you pay for avoiding risk is the uncertainty of never knowing whether you would have succeeded or not. The actual cost may be far greater.”
I’d rather take a risk and know if I fail or succeed instead of play it safe and never know what might have been. I’m grateful that one of the major lessons learned for 2013 for me is this: take risks.