Yesterday I talked about competence and excellence – it’s a theme you’ll be hearing a lot in the next dozen or so articles from me. The basic idea is that “good enough” is never satisfactory – to be successful and to keep moving forward, you have to give it your best shot every single time.
Sometimes you might find it difficult to show up with your “A” game – however, if something is difficult it isn’t an excuse for not making it happen. If you find it difficult it just means that you either need to find a shortcut (work smarter) or dig deep and push through (work harder).
Today I want to talk about something related to competence – risk-taking.
Part of the philosophy of giving a project your 100% every day is that you are always pushing for improvements. At one time or the other, this push will require you to take risks, and it is at this point in time that you will feel the most resistance, when you will find it most difficult to ‘bring your A-game’ to the table.
Risk-taking is an integral fact of business and blogging. Every day we’re faced with choices that require us to leave the comfort of the familiar and venture into the unknown.
Should you hire a new writer? Is this new ad network worth your time? Will you take time out today to build links to your blog instead of writing your daily 5 articles? Is it a good idea to purchase advertising on that site or would it be smarter to keep the money and reinvest into a new design?
When faced with choices, our minds do something very interesting. You will intuitively know what the right decision is (as long as your priorities for your blog are straight), but whether you will be emotionally inclined towards it will depend on how ‘familiar’ it is. With choices that result in taking the unknown path (i.e. taking a risk), chances are that you will come up with rationalisations to avoid taking that step.
Real-world example – I have a friend who runs a very successful construction business. It takes him 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, plus another 6 hours on Sunday. That’s 78 hours per week of work, and this guy is running himself into the ground while building his business up. On one hand he’s happy with his success, but on the other hand it’s clear that he’d like to grow but cannot scale the business. Why Not? Because he hasn’t found a way to replicate himself.
This is a situation many bloggers are familiar with. After a certain point it becomes impossible for a blog to grow unless the owner leverages money for other peoples’ time instead of working on it 24 hours a day. Whether it is hiring a designer or a programmer or just to bring in new writers, it’s a risk the blogger has to take and as a result there’s a natural resistance to it.
This fear of the unknown (for that’s what it is – fear) limits you as a blogger. To paraphrase the Roman historian Tacitus (who was talking about leaders), the desire to play safe stands against every great blogger and blog. There will come a time when you will hit a plateau in your blog – and if you want to move past it, you will have to overcome your fear of the unknown, take risks and push forward to the next level.
Risk Taking 101
Some people look at guys like Tim Ferriss and Matt Furey and wonder how some people can accomplish so much in their lives – it seems inhuman until you realise that these people have an extraordinary willingness to take risks and explore the unknown. This drive doesn’t always pay off, but in most cases you end up being better off than before.
Today’s takeaway: Look at your blog and your blogging efforts and pinpoint the risks that you’ve been avoiding for the last few weeks or even months. Pick one of these risks, discuss the options with your friends and family (or people who know your business) and if it’s the right thing, do it.
And then repeat this once a day (or once a week if you’re doing ‘projects’) with your blog. You don’t have to turn into blind risk-taker, but by constantly pushing your limits and what you do with your blog you’ll not only grow your blog but you’ll also discover new opportunities in blogging and business that were never available to you before.
This article was originally written on 25 Sep 2007 for Performancing.com.