Taking a risk often feels like a gamble. Whether we're starting a business or moving to a new city, the outcome feels out of our control, like throwing dice. Win or lose – it's a question of luck.
But Angie Morgan has a different take, outlined in her new book, "Bet on You: How to Win With Risk," written with long-time collaborator Courtney Lynch.
It's a helpful guide built on the personal experience of its authors and a lot of sound advice.
The good news is we can make our own luck in the risks that we take. The not-so-good is that there are no short cuts.
The Wise Gambler
Morgan's life is proof of her risk-taking prowess. She served as a Marine Corps officer before becoming a sales leader for global pharmaceutical companies. She then set up the successful leadership-development firm Lead Star, with Lynch, and wrote two best-selling books.
In the excerpt below from our exclusive Expert Interview, she explains her approach to taking on another new business venture – a neighborhood café.
So, each step in her portfolio career has been a risk. And through taking these risks, she's learned how to maximize her chances of winning. But, she told me, "It's not just 'dream it': you actually have to do it; you have to do the work."
Will You Risk Saying "No"?
"Bet on You" is full of encouraging stories that drive home this wisdom and offer us tips to put it into practice. One such is starting with a "gutsy no."
"If there are things that are really important for you to pursue, you have to find the time," Morgan points out. "And the best way to make the time is to start saying 'no.' It can create time and space for us to take care of ourselves. It can create time and space for us to take risks on ourselves."
This "no" is "gutsy" because declining anything can feel risky. Will people still like us, or trust us, if we turn down an invitation or a request for help?
"It feels a little selfish," Morgan admits. "Yet, at the same time, it's your life, and we have to have the sense of freedom to be self-directed. That's very important for our own sense of wellbeing and satisfaction."
But make sure you use that hard-won time for its allotted purpose!
"Don't multitask, don't do laundry and pay your bills, and 'Oh yes, I'm going to get my business license right now' at the same time. Focus on whatever it is you're trying to achieve: honor yourself with effort and action," she urges.
Self-Sabotage and Risk
And when it comes to "effort and action," she doesn't pull any punches. A key tip in the book is: "Don't half-ass it."
"We all know these people who cram for a test and fail. And they say, 'Oh, I guess I'm not meant to do this.' [For example,] if you want to become a realtor and you don't really prepare for the realtor's license test and you bomb it, you might say, 'Hey, I guess that wasn't meant for me'," Morgan says.
"It's like, well, no. It probably was meant for you but you half-assed it! You didn't give it the attention and commitment, and now you're saying it wasn't for you. You're drawing a very invalid conclusion.
"So, before you determine whether or not something is going to be successful or not successful in your life, don't half-ass it. Fully commit to it."
Take the Mind Tools "Locus of Control" self-assessment quiz to explore the role of luck in your life.
Knowing When to Quit
Then your success will be built on solid ground – and your failure, if that happens, will be too. You'll know it really wasn't meant to be, and can quit with no regrets.
"If you take the risk and you're just not finding the joy and satisfaction, you don't have to stay on that path," Morgan points out.
"We put so much pressure on ourselves around the word 'failure.' I don't think of things that don't work out as fails. I think about [those] things as wonderful experiences that I learned and grew from…
"Yes, have a moment where you're maybe a little embarrassed about that. But dust it off your shoulders and move on."
Another piece of solid advice.
In a world of instant gratification and overnight celebrity, it's refreshing to be reminded that working hard, with focus and commitment, is still the most likely way to win a bet on you.
And if you end up losing? That's still the best way to learn.
Guides and Mentors
Mind Tools Club members and Mind Tools for Business licensees can listen to or read my full 30-minute interview with Angie Morgan, in which she describes how to gain the knowledge and confidence to take risks.
And, if you're not already signed up, join the Mind Tools Club now to gain access to 2,400+ resources, including our back catalog of 200+ Expert Interviews.
To find out more about Mind Tools' enterprise solutions, you can book a demo.
Your Attitude to Risk
Do you try to avoid risk at all cost, or thrill to the adventure and adrenaline? Share your experiences in the comments below!