Well hey everybody, thanks for listening to the Red Door Creative podcast. My name is Jordan Farris and I’m the founder and owner of Red Door Creative which is a digital creative agency. The goal of my business is ultimately to help great people do great things, and this podcast is just one way that I hope to help business people and marketers like yourself do just that. I try to keep the episodes short and sweet because I know you’re busy like I am. Let’s get started.
You know, making this podcast has been a really fun experience for me in a lot of ways, but one thing in particular that’s been fun to see is how the topics I talk about are really related to my own everyday life. As a listener, you have no way of knowing how I decide what to talk about each week, so I’m gonna let you in on a little bit of how it’s done. I’m only talking about things that are somehow actually related to the real thoughts and experiences of my own life and business each week… because I want my commentary on those topics to be as authentic as possible. In some way, as the audience, you are witnessing me living my real life and processing my own challenges and experiences out loud in real time. I say all of that because today’s episode hits me especially hard, and I can’t deny that this is an area that I am really trying to attack in my own life lately. That area is a little thing called risk... and I am so excited for us to tackle this together this week.
Personalities and Risk
If you’re listening to this podcast you’re probably aware, if not highly knowledgeable, about the sixteen personality types and the many ways in which personalities affect the workplace. There’s also a ton of information available on the web about personalities and personality types, so I don’t really see the need to give you much of an education about those here. For the sake of simplicity, though, I want to divide personalities into two general groups - those who would describe themselves as risk-averse and those who would describe themselves as risk-takers.
If you’re anything like me, by nature you belong to the group that describes themselves as risk-averse. I’m an extremely logical and analytical thinker, and I usually need time to really think things through before undertaking something new or making a big decision. I want to make sure I have all the information in front of me, and I carefully consider every aspect of how a decision will not only affect me, but others as well. This can be a tremendous strength - there is definitely a place in the world for people like me. But, I have to admit, it’s also been a handicap in certain situations.
Or, you may be the other kind of person. Are you a natural risk-taker? Risk-takers don’t need as much time to process their decision. They easily accept new concepts and feel ready to act on them quickly. They’re not afraid to jump in to a new endeavor with both feet, never looking back. These adventurous people would rather ask for forgiveness than permission, and as you might imagine there are plenty of situations where this tendency would turn into an incredibly valuable skill to have. There are also times when risk-takers lose, but they’re definitely not afraid to admit it. At least they took a leap, right?
I’m curious which one of these groups you feel like you belong in. I’m at a place in my life where I’ve learned how valuable risk-taking can be, and I’m motivated to apply more it in my life, both at work and at home. Whether you’re like me and you want to improve your risk-taking abilities or you’re already a risk taker who wants to enhance their understanding of people like me… I hope this episode provides what you need to move to the next level.
Risk vs. Reckless
A person like me might look at a risk-taker and not understand them initially. In my mind, taking risks sometimes feels a lot like just being reckless. I used to be perplexed by people who seemingly never thought very long about anything before making a decision… why was their thought process so simple… or worse, why was it missing?
An interesting aspect of judging others from the outside is the fact that you’ll never know the full story. You can’t tell what’s happening in someone else’s mind, and you don’t have the benefit of seeing their experience to add context to their decisions. I eventually started to see that people have many different ways of arriving at their decisions, and most people don’t do it how I do it. Because our personalities are such a part of us, it’s almost impossible to see how a different way of processing could work for you... but it’s critical to remember that there is no right way when it comes to the art of decision making.
Now, looking back, most of the quote unquote “reckless” decisions that my risk-taking co-workers and bosses made weren’t as reckless as I thought. I started digging into why I feel so risk-averse, and yes, I just have that kind of personality… but I started to wonder if there were things I could do to increase my willingness to take risks, and maybe even learn to embrace the idea.
First of all, the word reckless is basically equivalent to the word irresponsible… meaning a reckless decision would be one in which the decision maker didn’t consider the consequences of said decision. Were these people in my life just ignoring all the information given to them? Of course not. They just seemed to have some x-factor that seemed to help them take decisive action without deliberating on the info for very long at all. It’s an incredibly attractive quality for the leader of an organization to possess, and I wanted to figure it out. What did they have that I didn’t have? Well, I can tell you one thing that they DIDN’T have that I did, and that’s a hefty fear of failure.
Overcoming Fear of Failure
The fear of failure can come from a variety of sources, but I think mine came from being a perfectionist at my core while simultaneously being a people pleaser. Those two energies within me drove me toward fear of letting people down or not performing to my own standard, and I started to realize that these things are part of what kept me stuck in my own internal process and deliberations at times. Many people also experience a fear of being told no that can be paralyzing, and could certainly contribute to one’s indecisiveness and risk-aversion.
It takes serious courage to step out of your normal processes and try a new way of decision making… and that courage can only come from one place - within yourself. But how?
One thing I’ve noticed about many great decision-makers and risk-takers is that they’re usually highly confident in themselves. They usually know EXACTLY how much value they bring to the conversation, and they’re not afraid to show it. This understanding of one’s own strengths can be an incredible driving force in business and life in general. Why not take an honest look at your own strengths and skill set and see if you currently have any strengths worth putting some confidence behind? Or, what weaknesses could be developed into strengths?
Likewise, these risk-takers are also keenly aware of their weaknesses. Go ahead and embrace the idea that you have weaknesses and you have plenty of ‘em. You need to know where your blind spots are because others can likely see them too. We’re not supposed to be perfect, that’s why we’re human. You should strive to understand your weaknesses and lean into others around you who are stronger in those areas. Use your weaknesses as opportunities to build bridges with other people and connect with them. This understanding of your own weaknesses is a key part of feeling more comfortable with the concept of risk; this is where you can begin to question “what’s the worst that could happen?”
Lastly, to move beyond the fear of failure, you might need to check your values. What do you really value most? Being right all the time? Winning? Or learning and being human? For me, the most important thing is that I’m always learning and using that knowledge to improve. This constant improvement will lead me to better and better opportunities, and make my life more fulfilling. Ask yourself right now, “am I comfortable with being wrong?” This is a wonderful question to ask yourself sometimes. If you want to learn to take more risks, you’ve got to become more comfortable with being wrong. What are the consequences of being wrong, anyway? In most of our situations, not much… but there is a ton to gain. For every time you get something wrong, you’re so much closer to getting it right.
The fear of failure is a big concept. Once I began to examine my strengths and weaknesses and prioritize the right values, I started noticing that I felt better about myself. I felt free. No longer did I have to always have the right answer... but I believed in myself to find it.
Reward from Risk
If you’re able to become less afraid of risk taking, the rewards can be pretty significant. For one thing, risks can sometimes open you up to incredible opportunities and challenges that you would have not been aware of otherwise. Facing up to a risk can also be a great way of discovering what you really want the most in life… if you’re willing to take a risk for it, there’s a pretty good chance it really means something to you. People who take a risk and experience the payoff that risk can often lead to… they experience life on another level, and I think there’s room for all of us to take a look at our risk-aversion and find out if it’s time to take a leap.
That’s it for this episode of the Red Door Creative Podcast. If you got anything out of this show, follow my business @madebyreddoor on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Anchor. I’ve got new shows dropping each Friday on your favorite podcasting platform. You can find those links when you follow me on social media. You guys have a good one, and we’ll see you next time! Thanks for listening.