re-thinking risk

In building a business, freelancing, inspiration, motivation by Jay Clouse

I was interviewed on The Video Community podcast recently, and the topic of risk came up. It comes up a lot in interviews with entrepreneurs, because starting your own business or working for yourself is risky.

But is it?

We’ve all been shown different paths. Growing up, going through college, or talking to a mentor…we are constantly being shown “the path for us.” The path that we’ve been taught to believe is not just safe — but the measure of achievement.

The thing is, the paths we are shown aren’t our paths. It’s their path. The path they took, or the path they wish they took (that’s the risk of taking advice).

But the path most often shown is the familiar path of employment. Learn the skill, trade that ability in bulk for the very real peace of mind that comes with a paycheck.

Just understand, you are being paid $XX for your ability because the person paying you is making $XX + $YY for the work that you are doing!

And while that comes with peace of mind — is that really less risky?

From where I’m sitting, there doesn’t look to be much loyalty on either side of a contract today. I’ve sat through a necessary 20% reduction in workforce one morning, and I see it happen all around me all the time.

Is it really that much safer than finding your own way, earning your own living, and constantly being forced to reckon with the actual demands of the market?

I would argue that the longer you fight to make your own way, the more valuable you make yourself in a workplace.

To me, the biggest risk is that I waste my very limited time doing “work” or activities that I don’t enjoy. Things that don’t challenge or fulfill me.

Building my own businesses — that mitigates that risk. But I have my own versions of risk that I’m avoiding.

One of my clients invited me to an event last week, and one of the speakers ended his talk with this thought:

What would you be doing if you were not afraid?

Woof. Talk about a wake up call.

Even though I’ve taken the road many see as “risky” — I’m constantly avoiding what I see as risk. I slow down timelines to make them feel more manageable, I delay the start of projects, and I don’t reach higher for fear of failure or rejection.

It’ll be easier in a couple months.

But that’s the fear talking. And if I was acting without that fear, I would’ve burned certain ships months ago.

So that’s my challenge to you. What risk have you been deciding is too great? How would your behavior change if you no longer believed that was a risk?

What would you be doing if you were not afraid?

PS
: Here’s that podcast interview¬†with The Video Community. It’s one of the best encapsulations of my feelings on creative work that has been recorded.


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