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SUCCESS CARD 10: Take Risks & Be a Cheerleader

Take Risks

A Chinese proverb states, "Man who says it cannot be done should not interrupt man doing it." With the fast pace of life today, the proverb holds true now more than ever. How many times have you had an idea only to find that someone else took it to market faster? Think of all the Amazing successful ideas that naysayers said would never happen. How about shopping on the Internet? Do you remember the early pioneers in the industry, perhaps even saying to someone you knew, "Amazon.com? What's that?" Now it's nearly a household name around the world. Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon.com, is a risk-taker and innovator. He believes that one of his most important roles as a leader is to make sure that his people know that things that seem impossible only seem impossible. They're often very doable.

"We took risks in different ways."

I was working at a large law firm with a nice salary when the firm offered marketing training. The workshop showed me that I enjoyed the creativity that marketing offered even more than the practice of law, and I felt that somehow I needed to change my profession from lawyer to marketer. However, there was no place to do this at my firm. I decided to leave, but to leave a steady, respected, well-paying job to try a field that was in its infancy was scary. My wife had recently given up a thriving costume and clothing design business to be a stay-at-home mom. I finally did find a firm that was interested in me, but it meant taking a severe pay cut. I tried to negotiate a creative salary structure for the new marketing position. I asked the employers to evaluate my performance in three months and, if they felt I was worth more than what they were paying me, to give me a raise. I also asked to be reviewed for an additional merit raise at six months, which would have brought me back to my original salary at the previous law firm. I worked hard and received both raises, which meant that I was able to support my growing family. If my wife hadn't been supportive and believed in me during this time, then I could not have made the change. Making the change was the best thing I've ever done.

Joe, marketing consultant to the legal industry

Don't get stuck in a state of toleration. The status quo can be just as demoralizing as some types of change. When you're tolerating something, your energy is in a negative place. You feel drained. You start attacking yourself, and your self-esteem suffers. Why not put all of that negative energy in a much better place? Turn it positive and take a risk!

Taking risks is part of managing yourself. Nobody else will take the risk for you; it's up to you. Management professor and author Peter Drucker once said that he no longer teaches the management of people at work because he no longer thinks that learning how to manage other people is most important. Now he teaches, above all, how to manage oneself. Self-management is the skill for successful game players today. If you're employed, try to remember that, above all, you're in charge of you. Work for yourself, not your employer. If you're at home, work for your own goals, not everyone else's. Do you have too many rules and not enough freedoms? Creative life and work decisions require the removal of pressure, fear, and judgment. Assess your attitude toward your work and life frequently. Don't be afraid to carefully examine these questions:

  • What parts of your work or life do you love?

  • What parts are least enjoyable?

  • What changes in your physical environment do you need?

  • What would make work or life more fun?

  • Do you feel happy nearly every day?

Earlier, when you played the Preparation Hand, you looked at your joy sensor. Your attitude is reflected in the outcome of your assessment. If you'd like to increase the happiness and positive moments in your life, here are some ideas to help you every day:

  1. Focus on one task at a time. A busy entrepreneur calms herself by hand washing the dishes in warm soapy water. She focuses on the dish, the soap, and the feel of the water.

  2. Set limits when you need to. Saying no doesn't mean you have a bad attitude; it means you care enough to say yes at a better time.

  3. Allow extra time for tasks and appointments. When you know your child's orthodontist appointment includes an hour wait, make room for a full hour and a half in your calendar. Take a good book or balance your checkbook while you wait.

  4. Get help with jobs you dislike. Cleaning help, database entry, phone calling, or dog walking—all can be contracted or bartered.

  5. Set realistic expectations for yourself. Don't try to do everything on your to-do list every day. Be happy when you check off some key items.

  6. Express your feelings. A group of overworked computer programmers surprised their managers when they asked for a day off to be with their families instead of their typical monthly bonuses.

  7. Schedule more fun and breaks in your day. Read the "funny papers" in the morning. Get to know one of the cartoon families, and it will help you laugh at your own situation with your work, teenager, or romantic life.

Be a Cheerleader

Frances, the lamb farmer with the shining attitude, always signed her letters "Francie," beside a scribbled self-portrait. If you looked closely at the scribbled portrait, you would notice that she gave herself a halo every time. Perhaps that's one reason her friends and their families believed that she was an angel. She believed it herself.

Frances's cheerleading began within. Yours should, too. If you can't support yourself, you can't support others. Dr. Carl Hammerschlag, an expert psychologist and author on wellness, says that you can't pour from the cup to share if your own cup is empty. Who can you cheerlead for if not yourself?

Harry's Move Harry quickly found that the retirement community could be negative. A good sense of humor about aging could easily turn into unfounded, morose sarcasm. He realized that if he were going to make it through this time in his life without severe depression, he had to be his own cheerleader. He made a pact to respond positively to every comment made by his retired friends, no matter how Pollyannaish it seemed. When someone complained about an ache or pain, Harry would say, "Well, at least you're vertical today!!!"

Harry responded beautifully to a negative environment. He took action. If people who whine and complain have ever surrounded you, you know how hard it is to try to be different. Try cheering others on, too. Recognizing others' accomplishments and good deeds can do wonders for your own sense of peace and well-being. Sometimes, shifting the focus from yourself and to others can be a springboard for a fresh outlook on your own life.

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