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Risky Business

By Claudette Rowley
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I just got a new computer. It's the most fun I have had in a long time.

For those of you thinking, "Boy, she needs to get out more," let me explain. My old computer was dying a slow death and I'd procrastinated mightily in identifying its replacement. I was nervous: what if the new computer didn't work any better? What if I picked the wrong one? I don't know anything about computers. What if the person I hired to transfer the files did a bad job? My business relies on this computer.

But finally, the real fear of my computer's imminent demise overcame my list of worries and won out over the above concerns. I took action – activated my network, found someone to build my machine for me and transfer all of my files. In short, I had to make several decisions that involved a good-sized chunk of money and the health of my business.

So, OK, what made this process fun? The RISK. I fell in love with the risk. I was absolutely exhilarated by it. After a lifetime of hoping to avoid it and trying to circumvent the discomfort associated with it, I embraced it. I said, "Bring it on!" Granted, when I review my life, I see that through the years, I've taken lots of substantial risks, and most of them have worked well. But I still dreaded them, but once resigned that I needed to move forward with those various actions, I proceeded made my way through them in an agonized, albeit effective manner. The computer experience kicked off an internal shift in the way I perceive risk and make decisions.

Looking back, I realized that I used the following six steps to help me through my computer purchase and set up. Unknowingly, I've used these steps many times before. Let me share them with you now. Perhaps these steps will help you as well. The next time, consider this process when you're making decisions that feel risky or are making a choice to take making a decision to take a risk:

  1. Gather information. When faced with any risk, whether you fear it or not, it's imperative to gather the information you need to make informed decisions. Some people struggle at this point, depending on their personality and decision-making habits. Some want to jump into action too quickly, while others and some get bogged down in the information. You know who you are. Identify your own habits.
  2. Look the decision or risk squarely in the face. What do you need to be honest about? What are the facts? What are the assumptions you've made? Do you require a contingency plan?
  3. Notice any fear. If fear has crept in (and it probably has), observe it. Is it stopping you from moving forward, standing up for yourself, or expressing your needs or desires? Suggestion: try jotting down your concerns on a piece of paper. Review each one – which fears are ungrounded? What are you avoiding? Which concerns require action? What would that action be? What support or assistance do you need?
  4. Identify the decisions. Usually, any risk involves making a series of smaller decisions that either lead up to the big decision or follow it. Again, note these on a piece a paper. What's the logical sequence for decisions? Do you know the decision that you'll make? What obstacles, if any, are in your way? What else do you need to know?
  5. Check in with yourself. What's your gut feeling? Tuning in is especially important if you're sitting on the fence or feel forced to take a risk with less information than you'd like. Risk-taking inherently requires a leap of faith and confidence in yourself that no matter what happens, you can handle it, find a solution or get the help that you need.
  6. Make the decision! Now that you've completed the previous five steps, you're in a better position to take the risk that's right for you.
Here's the other thing my computer adventure taught me I learned about risk. It becomes exhilarating when you have confidence in yourself and have faith in your actions. I was pretty sure that if I took the right actions, I'd see the right results. And I also noticed that facing my fear was a more direct route to my goals than continuing along on the circuitous path of avoidance I'd been taking while procrastinating.

By the way, the new computer runs like a champ. It's wicked fast — as we like to say here in the northeastern part of the US. The files transferred beautifully. And, it turns out that, in the end, I knew a thing or two about computers after all.

Copyright © 2007 Claudette Rowley
Claudette Rowley, coach and author, helps professionals identify and pursue their true purpose and calling in life. Learn more at Claudette

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