Discovering your Professional Purpose Takes Risk

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I ... I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." ~ Robert Frost

On Monday I was beaten up . . . again.

I train Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) weekly and have never made the jump to an advanced student.  

I have trained for the past few years and can hold my own, but something has always held me back.  On Monday, I realized the root of the problem: a fear of taking risks.

During a sparring match, my instructor was coaching me and telling me how to move.  I would get 75% through a move and stop.  Let's just say it didn't work out for me.  

After the match, my instructor said,

"you have the right move but you start and then stop, it's like you freeze, you need to be vulnerable and take risks."

It clicked, I always play safe with BJJ which allows me to win against less technical opponents, yet I can't make the leap to a better practitioner until I am willing to take risks and try more advanced moves.

The same is true for our professional purpose, we will not reach our goals unless we take risks.

Who do you admire?

Think about people you admire.  They probably have taken many risks throughout their life to reach their goals.  One of my heroes is: 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., talk about a man that took major risks.  He is still considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, civil rights leader.  He took risks to the point of tragedy when he placed his convictions in front of his own life.

Then there are professionals I look up to, for example, Ryan Holiday, Simon Sinek, Seth Godin, and others.  They have all taken risks to become successful.  

Holiday was a marketing prodigy, landing a prestigious position in his early twenties before writing Trust Me, I'm Lying Confessions of a Media Manipulator.  The book exposed how marketers use the media and how the media is complacent in a deceptive game to attract consumers.  He could have ruined his career, instead, the book launched him to recognition as one of the best young writers today.

Simon Sinek gave his, now famous, speech on Start with Why for years before it became one of the most watched and talked about Ted Talks of all time.  He could have given up, yet he kept pushing because he believed in his message.

Sometimes simply continually moving forward is the biggest risk we can take as we don't know where the path will lead us.

Seth Godin has been a risk taker for decades.  His book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, is unlike any I have ever read.  There are short chapters and it is structured in a unique way.

His book was the inspiration for my guides on how to master an MBA.  I wanted the guides to be informative and beautifully designed which goes against the tradition of most books.  It was a risk I needed to take even if only a few have read them.

The above range from legendary leaders to business icons, yet risk can look different and is likely more personal than you realize.  Most of us who live in the United States (U.S.) can trace ancestry to other countries within the past few decades or century.

According to Pew Research, in 2013, 41 million immigrants lived in the U.S.  Imagine the people who risked everything to travel or think of the parents who stayed behind in countries to send their children off to the U.S.  They likely took the risk for the chance, not the guarantee, for a better life.

I am always inspired by individuals with a student visa, they have no idea what will happen when they graduate, yet they are some of the hardest-working people I have ever met.  They are taking a huge risk for a future unknown job.  That is the type of risk which might not be publicized but is amazing to witness.

Are you ready to jump?

I have worked with young people for years and am surprised at how few are willing to jump at a risky professional venture.  Honestly, think of the era we live in, this is a prosperous time and to completely fail is actually very difficult.

There are countless resources on the internet among organizations that will help those who are looking, yet we will not take a risk because why?

We don't want to look foolish? 

Taking a risk and being vulnerable is exactly what is needed to reach our goals.  Start that side-business, ask for a raise, write a blog, ask to work from home 1-2 times a week, begin designing your own clothing line, create your dream non-profit, and do what you know you should do.

These risks are necessary for fulfillment and to live our professional purpose.

Resources to take the jump

For resources on how to embrace risk, check out the blogs on Your MBA Purpose.  These are updated frequently and cover everything from surviving unemployment with the 9to5 MisFits to networking to reading lists.

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Matt Avery