What are the Risks of Playing It Safe?
In seventh grade, we had a semi-formal winter dance at New Brighton Middle School. And while you could theoretically go without a date, it was a rare person that went without one. As the time to ask got closer, I knew exactly who I wanted to ask.
I kept waiting for the perfect time... which of course never came. As the dance got closer, I realized that I could not wait any longer. With my heart palpitating, I worked up the courage to ask her when I next saw her in the hall. Through an unnaturally dry mouth, I asked: “Would you like to go to the Christmas Dance with me?”
She gave me a sad smile. “Thanks for asking. It would have been fun to go with you. However, Tom just asked me yesterday and I told him yes. I wish you would have asked me earlier.”
I was as heartbroken as a seventh grader could be. And I promised myself to be more proactive for upcoming dances.
Eighteen years later, I was considering investing in a web design franchise. It was the biggest investment of my life, other than the purchase of our first condo. I did my research and was getting mixed results. Some franchisees were doing really well. Others were pretty frustrated, but many of those people had been in IT without a lot of marketing experience.
With my marketing experience, I expected I could make the franchise a success. So, I made the plunge. While it was not an unmitigated disaster, it was pretty bad. I made a fraction of the income I needed and we sank into debt. After two years, I decided to get a full-time job. It was definitely a low point in my life.
I took a risk and lost. It was the first serious professional failure in my life. However, what I learned through that experience was that it was OK to make mistakes and if we are willing to make the best of things, it can move us forward. Because of the mix of my marketing background and new online knowledge, I was hired as an online media manager where I honed my skills with Google Adwords.
That was the beginning of my new focus on online advertising, which has served me very well over the past 15 years.
I still think seriously when making choices that could be risky. However, I know that I can make it through on the other side, and am pretty good at making the best of the situation. And who knows, it could take life in a different directions that is ultimately better.
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