Egg yolks can be an adventure

A fried egg seems an unlikely source of anxiety – yet it was. Sitting atop a grilled hamburger, it drew stares not only from Katherine who had ordered the dish but from several others at our table.

“This isn’t really what I expected,” she exclaimed. “It doesn’t look right.”

Having lived in Denver where fried eggs surfed on lots of unexpected foods, I suggested she surprise her taste buds and take a small bite.

“I don’t think so,” Katherine declared. With a grimace, Katherine scooped the egg onto her bread plate and handed it to a passing waiter.

Katherine was bold in taking a baby step outside her comfort zone when she ordered the “sunny burger.” Yet she quickly recoiled from taking the next step when the new circumstances looked too unfamiliar. It’s true that fried eggs aren’t a hamburger topping staple like tomato or bacon or cheese; yet living life to your fullest potential is an ongoing adventure. And adventures, by their very nature, bring challenges and newness to be savored and explored.

Mind the signs. Just like the menu description that clearly announced the inclusion of the egg with the burger, life gives us signs. Watch for and pay attention to them. Act when they’re there; don’t pretend you didn’t see them if things turn out not quite so good.

Don’t stop mid-stream. Katherine took the culinary leap when she ordered but failed to carry through by taking just one teeny tiny bite. Putting one toe across the comfort zone border but refusing to go any further won’t help you conquer your fears.

If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not taking risks, and that means you’re not going anywhere. ~John Holt

Just do it. Take smart, small risks occasionally. Think of it as part of your personal professional development plan. It’s true about the old phrase, no risk no reward. Develop a taste for the unfamiliar; that way an unanticipated change isn’t quite so daunting.

Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. ~Helen Keller

Pay attention to what you push away or ignore. Understanding patterns can lead to insights about fears, concerns, etc. that hold you back from going to the next level.

Build resiliency. Not succeeding is an excellent teacher. Smile, reflect, give yourself permission to learn, and then move on.

Keeping your professional and personal life static leads to boredom, closed thinking and narrow viewpoints. Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? A taste or touch of the new and unexpected brings a whole new level of richness to life.



Taking on the Elephant in the Room

Are you willing to exercise your risk muscle to address an elephant in the room?

Recently I facilitated a workshop on power and influence for a group of high potential women and minorities working for a Fortune 500 firm.  During a discussion about the push/pull polarities of influence, a participant commented that the core issue for her was the willingness to influence.

Do you do it or not? How much do you use your influence for change when what needs changing is the long-cherished yet out-of-touch-with-reality status quo?

Her courageous workshop take-away was to take the risk and use her thought leader status to begin influencing new directions. She said she believed she owed it to her colleagues, the organization and herself to do so.  What a powerful moment.

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.  ~Leo F. Buscaglia

Round peg in the proverbial square hole

The risk is being the square peg in the round hole, wearing kelly green when colleagues are wearing charcoal grey, daring — albeit politely — to be the corporate contrarian.

Risking your secure place in the corporate food chain by questioning new practices that run contrary to stated values is a high stake gamble.  Will you be rewarded, take a small hit or lose it all?

According to Julie J. McGowan, professor at Indiana University,

Risk taking is hard to adopt among leaders, because recognized leaders have the most to lose and aspiring leaders may be discounted as lacking in knowledge or common sense.

Risk-taking can yield both great rewards and create possibilities for growth provided you do your homework ahead of time.  Assessing your tolerance for workplace risk-taking requires you to know yourself and understand the work environment . 

Do your homework

To get grounded and be prepared, consider:

  • Historically, how has your corporate culture reacted to those who challenged the status quo? 
    • Are you prepared to accept the possible outcomes?  Are you willing to have your credibility eroded? Are you equipped to lose your job?
  • Is this an issue that’s important to you alone, or do others share similar concerns?
    • Will others who think/feel/believe the same speak up after you’ve led the charge, or will your voice be the only one that’s speaking? Are you ready to forge ahead regardless?
  • Are you willing to be the center of attention if your topic goes viral within the company? 
    • Are you primed to be emulated and/or attacked? 
  • Do you have solid solutions and/or alternatives to offer? 
    • Are you disposed to collaborate with others and devise a solution that integrates the views of many?
  • Have you brainstormed possible unintended consequences, both positive and negative, of the stand you’re championing?
  • Are you OK, mentally and emotionally, with the possibility of failure? 
    • Will your self-esteem survive the hit?  Can your ego resist the adulation of success? 
  • Do you have the will to see it through?
    • Do you have a support system that will nurture you throughout, regardless of the outcome?

Taking on the elephant in the room is a personal choice.  Only you can decide if high risk/high reward is your métier or if low risk/low reward represents the boundaries of your comfort zone. 

Be prepared. Be thoughtful. Do what’s right for you.


Follow your dream!

I’d just finished delivering a workshop on mapping out your life purpose when a session participant approached me and asked for a word of advice.

“I’ve worked in sales for ten years, and it’s time for a change because I’m tired and burned out.”

“Do you know what kind of change you want?”

“I want to open a little shop that sells deliciously rich, moist cupcakes and great coffee. The kind of place where I like to stop when I’m on my sales route when I need to escape the rat race. Everyone tells me I’ve lost my mind. What do you think?”

“Your vision sounds delightful! Do you have a business plan?”

“Yes as well as an investor, a line of credit at the bank and a location all picked out.”

“Do you feel like what you’re about to do is a risk?”

“Absolutely, yet not a crazy one. I’m going in with my eyes wide open.”

“Are you prepared financially should it take a while to get established?”

“I am.  I’ve done well in sales and have socked away a nice little nest egg that’ll tide me over.  I won’t live in the grand style I used to but it’s just me so I won’t be going hungry.”

“Are you passionate about this cupcake shop?”

“I’m excited, a little scared, but this is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.”

“Then, all you have to say to your friends is ‘please love me, support me and help me make my dream come true.’”

Is there someone following their dream to whom you can extend your love, your help and your support?