Mar 2017
The Risk Factor
banner image

Belly flopping from the high diving board, venturing out without stabilisers, being daring with a Bunsen Burner and dancing with abandon.

Childhood. A time of innocence, a world waiting to be explored, adventure to be had. Back then, we did not understand or care about the concept of ‘risk’.  We were not limited, influenced or controlled by it.  Only as we grew older did it creep into our vocabulary.


It is defined as ‘the potential of gaining, or losing something of value’.  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about risk at various stages of my career. Such as when I chose to leave university because it didn’t feel like the right path for me. Or when I left Northern Ireland for the bright lights of London to accelerate my career. And indeed many years later when, following a successful career in the retail world, I decided to start my own coaching business. All big life decisions which involved big risk.


Not only have I experienced the ‘risk factor’ first hand, but as a career coach, specialising in career change I have supported lots of individuals through decisions around risk.  This is also part of my current role at Carbon, where I help experienced high calibre lawyers to break free from the confines of a traditional law firm environment, into a new proposition which offers true autonomy and freedom in a self-employed capacity.


So, what have I learned along the way?

Risk is all about how you look at it. With the big decisions I’ve taken, I always saw the opportunity to gain rather than lose. Calculated risks are all about putting careful thought into the decisions you make. Working out whether the reward is worth the risk. It’s important to work through that process. Once I make a decision to move forward, I commit to it 100% and don’t look back.


Sometimes it is about a leap of faith. You can plan, analyse, think about it all you want. Nothing is guaranteed. Sometimes you have to rely on your gut. To genuinely believe it is the right thing to do. To have the faith that it will work out. The decisions I have made have resonated with me. They just felt right.

There will always be some who think you’re mad and don’t get it. But what’s important, is those that truly care will believe in you and support you.  Surround yourself with key supporters, people who understand you and what your goals are.


It’s normal to fear the unknown. Your inner gremlins take over. Thoughts go through your head at speed – It won’t work. I’ll fail. I’ll miss out. I’ll lose face. That’s normal. You have a choice. You can listen to the gremlins and hold yourself back, or you can choose to put them on mute and move forward. If things work out, great, and if they don’t you know you’re capable of trying and you’ve gained valuable insights for the future. Either way, you’re better off. Don’t let your inner voice take over. Don’t limit yourself.


Taking risks really builds confidence and courage to stretch your boundaries further and further. It’s hugely empowering to realise you are in control and can shape the life you want. It’s like stretching a new muscle. At first it aches but with use it starts getting easier until it becomes comfortable.

It’s ok to make mistakes. It’s inevitable. But with every mistake comes a lesson learned. Never make the same mistake twice, make new ones and learn from every experience.

Taking risks is scary but hugely rewarding. Doing what you always did will get you what you always got.  My advice – shut down the gremlins, jump off that high diving board, fire up the Bunsen Burner, dance with abandon.  You’ll amaze yourself, and you’ll be amazing.