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How do you place big bets within your job?

After our event on finding your passion the other night, one of the attendees and members (Sam) emailed Rob talking about the blocks that stop people from escaping the corporate world – namely, the risk-averse culture perpetuated in many environments. We wanted to re-print parts of the email trail here. 

Corporates hate risk

One build from the conversations is that I believe one of the blockers to people making the leap is that most corporates are risk adverse. For the majority of us our work is based around reducing and mitigating risk. Over time this can’t help but filter its way through to how we act. Look at the number of people who joined Facebook from Google in the early days, these are individuals worked in companies that encouraged and valued taking big bets in the hope that they pay off.

So how do we progress?

Using the relative safety net of working in a large corporate to start making some big bets within your current role could pay dividends. It should make your current position a more interesting whilst getting you comfortable with taking risks.

I learnt to box a couple of years ago and the moment of clarity came when I sparred for the first time and realised that getting punched in the face does not kill you. You can take it and move on and before too long its just part of the process. The majority of the people in the room last night appeared well-educated and employable, taking a leap and failing would not kill them (us).

To which Rob replied…

Funnily enough I had a similar conversation with a lawyer friend the other day. He said he spends his entire time minimising the downside for his clients (managing risk as you say). What he really wants is to build things. I hadn’t made the link between that and his own attitude towards escaping but I think you’re absolutely right.

I think ‘placing some big bets within your job’ is excellent advice. Otherwise we’re like so many rabbits in the headlights. It’s a bit like climbers acclimatising their way up a mountain.

My personal comparison is thinking of skiing

If you hadn’t skied for a year and someone told you to straight-line a red or black run you’d freak out. However, if you did it at the end of a week on the slopes you’d be much calmer about it. And, obviously, if you did it every day it would begin to become absolutely natural. I’ve found the same with nerves regarding public speaking… eventually you think ‘what was I so worried about?!’

I wonder what big bets people could place from within their corporates to begin taking some of that power back, to fight their natural risk aversion…? Are we talking about developing an escape mindset (unconventional, entrepreneurial) from within the organisation? Actively shaping your role and your work for the better – without facing the fear of resigning immediately? Have you read Linchpin by Seth Godin? It’s excellent on some of this stuff.

Linchpin summary (one of our favourite books)

The system we grew up with is a mess.  It’s falling apart at the seams and a lot of people I care about are in pain because the things we thought would work don’t.  Every day I meet people who have so much to give but have been bullied enough or frightened enough to hold it back.  They have become victims, pawns in a senseless system that uses them up and undervalues them. It’s time to stop complying with the system and draw your own map.

Read more here.

  • https://twitter.com/adelebarlow Adele

    Thanks for sharing Sam. Love this point: “Getting punched in the face does not kill you.”