There are many occasions in life when it seems easier to stay on a familiar, risk-free, but ultimately unsatisfying path, rather than to strike off into uncharted territory.
And it’s easy to understand that position. If you have a family or a mortgage, or economic conditions are tough, the risks of change can appear to be overwhelming. As the U.S. author Timothy Ferris put it, “People will choose unhappiness over uncertainty.”
But sometimes you just have to take a massive leap of faith – and hope for a soft landing.
I once found myself with just such a choice: stick with an organization where I had spent the previous 16 years, or hit the road in search of new opportunities and a total change of scenery. The advice I received, often unsolicited, was overwhelmingly, “Stay put, keep your head down, and think of your pension pot.” But the people closest to me knew I was unhappy and disillusioned, and they urged a bolder course of action.
So, with Christmas just around the corner, with no job lined up, and with the pressure of paying the mortgage and child support suddenly increasing ten-fold, I became an unemployed, middle-aged, middle-ranking “suit” in a difficult job market populated by super-energetic, commitment-free, young go-getters!
Only one sensible course of action presented itself to me at that time: I got on my bicycle and went for a ride. Halfway through the ride, I was convinced I had made a monumental mistake. By the time I got home, I realised I’d made one of the best decisions of my life. And I was determined not to fall into the same trap again. I didn’t want to change the name of the company, but still carry the same baggage on the same long commute.
Of course, as a team leader, if you are considering a new adventure to take your organization on to the next level of growth, you will have many more things to consider than how it will impact you personally. But there are tools to help you make your choices, such as The Ansoff Matrix.
Had I known such resources existed, I might have conducted a proper decision analysis, or plotted my situation across some relevant matrix, and weighed up all the pros and cons. But, as I had done on many previous occasions – with mixed success – I opted to go with “gut instinct” and leaped before I looked! For me, the trade-off boiled down to whether I valued my own happiness and well-being more than being able to buy cool stuff!
However, after a few months of pride-denting unemployment, I found work with sensible hours closer to home, and most of the time actually at home, for a company whose boss knows my name. My suit might be getting dusty, and I’ve got a selection of tired, unfashionable ties going begging, but so far I’d say my gamble has paid off.
When have you trusted a major personal or business decision to a leap of faith, and what was the result? Join the discussion below!