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Are You Betting On Yourself?

Do you remember how it felt when someone believed in you to do something important? When everyone else, including yourself, knew you weren't ready. When there was a safer option. When the chances of failure were high, and the consequences dire? And despite all that — someone took a bet on you.

Now, here's a question: how often do you take a bet on yourself?

It's easy to stay in a job you hate and complain about it. Positive change takes effort. Jack London said, “Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.” It's that extra "umph" of self-belief that makes all the difference.

So, what will give you that confidence boost? In our coaching experience, we often work with these two mental frames.

Safe careers are dangerous.

By "safe careers" we mean those that give you a predefined trajectory, a well-established sequence of jobs, a known retirement age… It may happen and you may be OK with it. But there may be other scenarios. You may get to a point where you realize that it's not the career you wanted. Or you may have to leave the job for whatever reason and be unable to find another that suits your skills and interests. And because over the years you have felt safe and comfortable, you have neglected taking care of your career.

As our mentor Jim Shanley says, "If you are not risking your career, you are risking your career".

Don't be scared by the word "risk". It may simply mean stepping out of your comfort zone. The degree of risk will vary for each individual. For some, it's taking on a new project once a year. For others — it's leaving a cushy role to become an entrepreneur with no guarantee of success.

But the risk keeps you aware of the necessity to pay attention to your career health. It also provides you with development, as well as opening up new opportunities. By trying out new things you discover many more new prospects. In other words, you multiply your options!

To ease into this mental frame, consider these questions:

  • What do I stand to gain from having a novel professional experience?

  • What's the worst that can happen? How will I remediate?

Pray at the altar of small bets.

When your objective is to explore what's available and understand the options, placing small bets is the best strategy.

First, it's less scary. You are investing bits of your energy, time, and enthusiasm into mini-projects that don't have to turn into anything big or long-term. You are exploring, searching, having fun… In a randomized field experiment, psychologists asked school children to "do science" or "be scientists" when offering them to do some easy experiments. When asked to "do science" for a while, children were more persistent and interested in the subject several days later. So, think in terms of experimentation, trying it out, or dabbling versus becoming someone new or making a big change.

Second, it's smart. You want to stay ahead of the game, so you need to constantly reinvent yourself. But you don't always know what will work best. You will try several different options and select those that are most aligned with your purpose, allow you to produce greatest value, and advance your personal brand. Call it survival of the fittest.

Finally, it's fun!

To ease into this mental frame, consider these questions:

  • What was the last time that you tried something new – something you thought you couldn't do but still went for it? How did it feel?

  • What really stands in the way of me being WILLING and OPEN?

Now, take a bet on yourself.

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