While listening to a former coach, now a sports commentator, I was struck by a comment he made as he evaluated an inexperienced quarterback. His assessment was that the young athlete took too many risks and needed to dial it back a bit. That said, he concluded his remarks by saying, “But I would rather have to pull someone back than to coax them to move forward.” What struck me about that statement is how much it parallels my experience in working with professionals.
You see, it’s natural to want to hold back in order to reduce risk. You stay close to what you know. You’re comfortable and secure. In fact, you feel courageous and victorious when you remain close to your center.
It’s also a way of making yourself unremarkable. No one notices you. Not your firm’s leaders, not your clients, not your prospects, not your community. You are only noticed by yourself—capable, in charge and on top of the world. You think you’re really something while others think you’re not much. The only time others notice you is when you hesitate, delay and hold up.
Go-getters aren’t fearful to step out. They are willing to enter into the “don’t know for sure” realm, where there is a chance of failure or ineffectiveness. They step out and ask the challenging questions, engage in “what if” discussions, and propose something innovative, even when they are unsure about where it will take them. They don’t shy away from something they’ve never done before and refuse to be indecisive.
And if you are in a supervisory capacity and your instruction to others is to “just do as you’re told,” you are demonstrating low-risk behavior and stunting the development of your people. In fact, you are raising unnoticeable and unremarkable professionals.
This week, every time you feel anxious, unsure or ill-equipped, force yourself to take the risk to venture out. It’s the only way to expand your capability and be noticed. And remarkable.