There are rarely 100% decision moments in the life of an entrepreneur. As we grow in our skills and confidence we learn to create space for leaning in to risk.
Learning to take calculated risks is part of growing as a business person. And, as I often share with my coaching clients (and clinical clients as well), there are very few moments in life where we will have a 100% guarantee that our dream, plan, project, process, relationship, or business next step will go just perfectly or exactly the way we anticipate.
Sometimes the plan or professional goal works out just how we envisioned, and sometimes it does not.
Professional Paralysis by Over Analysis
What I see happening for some of my colleagues that I have the honor of supporting through our coaching relationship, is their anxiety about growth keeps them stuck and fearful. I understand, I've been there before as well. All of the signs and stars align, and the doors open up wide, and a big warm welcome mat rolls out in front of you to take the next step, but then...paralysis by over analysis sets in, and eventually the opportunity moves along to someone else.
I recall many years ago, prior to my clinical and coaching days, having a great idea that I knew in my gut would be a fantastic and popular product. I spent far too long worrying, and wondering, researching and discussing, questioning myself and others, procrastinating and trying to check off every single box on my list, then...I finally, took the leap, had a great response from investors and chain stores, and guess what happened, another person beat me to the market by a month with a very similar idea. That person went on to make 7 million dollars on this idea in their first year.
What did I learn from this tough business lesson nearly 20 years ago? To trust my self, my muse and to thine own self and creative process be true!
I also learned that I needed to seek out a therapist and heal some lingering self doubt and old thought gremlins that had been part of my early child hood trauma. It was time to let go of that out dated internal script of criticism that needed to be buried once and for all.
And, it was very helpful for me to work with a business coach to learn how to get out of my own way and to better organize my project time line so that I could move past the dream stage and into the execution and money making stage.
The Percentage Tool
I have found that the best I can do when I am standing at a place where my professional journey is inviting me to take a little or big leap is to:
1. Prepare (I do this by writing out the idea or plan, breathing, praying, discussing with a trusted support or two)
2. Do my research and ask questions
3. Work hard
4. Operate ethically
5. Be kind
6. Be true to self
7. Connect and consult with supportive and knowledgeable professionals
8. CYA my legal business ass-ets
And then...when an opportunity presents itself, even if it feels like a "big" or scary next step, I take a deep breath, check in with myself, my higher power, my own mentors, and use what I call "The Percentage Tool".
This is how that tool works:
I ask myself, "Mari, what percent "comfortable" are you with this next step or opportunity? And what is the worst thing that can happen if it doesn't go exactly the way you anticipated?"
If I am at 50/50% comfy with the risk, then I take a little more time to pray, meditate, journal, confront my inner perfectionist, and discuss the opportunity with one or two trusted others (NOT all of my trusted peeps, as that is too many cooks in the kitchen). I reach out to one or two nearest and dearest in my trusted inner circle. I want to be able to lean in to my supportive peeps who will hear my fears, encourage me, without minimizing my concerns, but also will give me a gentle nudge if they think it is a good idea.
Ultimately the final decision is mine to make.
If I am at 60% comfy or above, that is often enough for me to lean in to the risk and give the new opportunity, experience, project or idea a whirl (as long as it is ethical and aligns with who I am as a professional and a woman).
If I am lower that 50%, then I know this is a sign for me to slow down, and either look at the fears or worries and heal some more of that old junk, or it is a sign that I need some consulting or coaching support to learn the ropes, or ultimately it could be a sign that I am not prepared for the next step, or that this opportunity is just not the right fit for me.
Over the years as I evolved as a professional and my brand began to grow and get some notice, I was approached by others with opportunities and invitations. It was important for me to separate feeling flattered and grateful, and instead to really assess if the invitation was right for me. I found myself saying yes at times, and no other times. And I always use my tool and method that I have outlined here to help guide me.
More often than not, (much more often), my intuition and my faith has led me in the right direction. And when I reflect at a later date, I am so thankful that I trusted my growth, my ability to lean into risk, and my higher power to take the next step.
On the rare occasion when things did not go as planned, that is OK too as I always learned a great lesson from those experiences as well. Sometimes it was a 7 million dollar lesson, but I've learned to love (yes, love) that lesson too.
I have found time and again in 30 years of small biz experience, that growth happens when we get out of our own way.
Here is to growing and leaning in to risk. I'd love for you to take a moment and introduce yourself in the comments below, and share how you have learned to lean in to risk.
Kindly and in support,
P.S. Are you feeling like you would like a little additional support? Working with a coach can be a wonderful way to move your professional dreams forward. Not sure if coaching is right for you? That's OK, take a look around my coaching site, make yourself at home, lots of free blogs and goodies, and you may also want to hear what others have to say as they share about their experience in working with me here.