There is an old saying that good lawyers run away from risk, while good businessmen run towards risk. Today, the final part of my three part series discussing things we can learn from big businesses is all about risk.
I am sure you have read a lot of articles about how famous, brilliant people failed before they achieved success. When you read these lists and thought, no way “Steve Jobs was fired from Apple” and “Walt Disney was fired from his job for ‘lacking imagination,’” what was your take away? What did you learn from their failure? First off, they did not fail but rather had obstacles that led them to greater success in the future. Big businesses and majorly successful people all talk about how they have turned their lemons into lemonade.
If you need some inspiration about how to make lemonade, I suggest reading Ryan Holliday’s book “The Obstacle Is the Way,” which I heard about through a great Inside Acting interview with actor, Ryan McCarten. In Part 3 he mentions “things in your way, become your way.” Then Ryan takes it a step further and mentions the importance of taking calculated risks. What is a calculated risk? It is estimating and evaluating the chance of failure in your choices.
At Ms. In the Biz, we are all about being proactive which is why I love the idea of calculated risks. Everyone will fail in this business, in any business, and in life. Failure is a part of life, but sometime we should take the reigns and choose where we might fail.
Taking calculated leaps of faith does not mean dropping blindly into a big decision and praying for success. Calculated risks means weighing the risks and benefits and even accepting the worst-case scenario. If you understand what the absolute worst is that could happen, then you are able to take steps in an informed and productive manner. Taking this proactive approach also helps you feel empowered, and we all know confidence is sexy, right!?
Want some proof about how big businesses adopt this strategy? There are hundreds of stories out there but this is one of my favorite and fairly unknown. Kai and Charles Huang are the creators of the “Guitar Hero” videogame. Their company, RedOctane was in business for six years before they launched Guitar Hero. This game was their final shot as they had saved the company from bankruptcy twice and were $2 million dollars in debt when they bet all their money on a plastic guitar. Years later, the company was bought for $100 million.
One of the reasons that I love this particular calculated risk story is that Charles and Kai experienced failure and bankruptcy twice before they took this final leap of faith. They had to repeatedly believe in themselves. They hit rock bottom and bounced back to a place of creativity and strength to make their next calculated leap of faith.
Big businesses have to make risky decisions all the time in order to move forward. As creators, we need to do the same. We need to take back the power, and be in control of our careers. The next time you are faced with a decision that makes you a bit uncomfortable, good. Look at the decision and think about the absolute worst-case scenario. Will you be moving to a new city? Trying something new? Whatever it is, accept and embrace the worst-case, and believe that whatever happens, you will make the decision work for you. Have confidence in yourself, in your craft, and in your business, and take a calculated leap of faith into your next unknown.