The Courage to Begin: Lessons on Taking Risks

Learn how to silence those limiting beliefs and say ‘yes’ to your dream venture with these practical insights on taking risks.

For the longest time, I wanted to start my own blog. But the excuses for not doing it were plenty: “There’s not enough time,” “The internet is already flooded with blogs,” “What unique angle can I possibly offer?”

These doubts, coupled with the fear of committing to something new and the challenge of juggling yet another responsibility, held me back. But here’s the thing about stepping into the unknown: it’s where growth happens. It’s where we find what truly sets us apart. So, as I finally embraced this journey, I wanted to share some insights and resources that I wish I had leaned into sooner.

Practical Lessons

A few things nudged me into the “just do it” zone.  A milestone birthday served as a stark reminder that time waits for no one, prompting a sense of urgency. Surrounding myself with inspiring female entrepreneurs, who viewed risk as an exhilarating adventure, along with a wealth of personal development resources I’ve summarized below, helped shift my mindset towards action.

1. Embrace Your Unique Voice

Oscar Wilde famously said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Your voice is invaluable, shaped by your unique experiences and insights. Whether you have a new business idea, want to write a book or just try something new, understand that not everyone will be receptive to what you have to offer, and that’s perfectly fine. What matters is reaching those who may need what you are contributing.

Recommended resource: “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert

Gilbert suggests that every individual has a unique contribution to make and that creativity itself does not have to be perfect or widely acclaimed to be valuable. The act of creating and expressing oneself is seen as its own reward, and taking risks in the pursuit of passion is essential to a fulfilling creative life. Link to her book here.

2. Face Your Fears Head-On

Tim Ferriss’s concept of “fear-setting” offers a practical approach to overcoming fears of failure. By defining, preventing, and repairing fears through structured exercises, Ferriss teaches how to assess risks and take action, despite fears.

His methodology, rooted in Stoicism, emphasizes the learning opportunities in failure and the importance of taking calculated risks. This approach not only makes fears more manageable but also highlights the cost of inaction.

Recommended resource: Ted Talk by Tim Ferriss “Why you should define your fears instead of your goals.” Link to the video here.

During his talk, Ferriss shared how he managed to calm his anxiety to make better personal and business decisions. He calls it “Fear Setting”, and it uses the following three steps:

    • Define: List what you’re afraid of and what could go wrong.
    • Prevent: Note how you can prevent each feared outcome or decrease its likelihood.
    • Repair: If the worst-case scenario happens, how could you repair the damage or who could you ask for help?

The Cost of Inaction: Ferriss emphasizes evaluating the cost of inaction over the short term (3-6 months) and long term (1-3 years). He argues that the consequences of inaction often outweigh the potential risks of taking action, especially regarding emotional, physical, and financial well-being.

3. Adopt a Learning Mindset

Remember, it’s never too late to start anew. Curiosity and a willingness to learn transform every challenge into an opportunity for growth.

Recommended resource: Ted Talk by Carol Dweck “The power of believing that you can improve.”  Link to the video here.

“The Power of Yet” is a concept popularized by Carol Dweck, emphasizing the growth mindset. It suggests that individuals can develop their abilities and intelligence over time with effort, strategies, and help from others, transforming challenges into opportunities for learning and growth by framing struggles with a “not yet” perspective rather than viewing them as failures.

4. Prioritize Progress Over Perfection

This one is easier said than done but when you embrace your authentic self, imperfections and all, it creates more openness for taking risks. Perfection is an elusive goal; what matters is continuous improvement and celebrating every step forward.

Recommended resource: Mel Robbins Live: “The Problem with Perfect.” Link to video here.

Mel Robbins offers a helpful perspective on the downside of trying to be perfect which is often rooted in the desire to not disappoint others.

These insights into risk-taking and overcoming limiting beliefs are crucial for anyone standing at the brink of a new venture. It’s about embracing the mess and imperfections along the way.  I for one am glad I took the risk — it’s charged my batteries with the urge to learn new things and connect with other content creators. While it’s been like learning to ride a bike again—lots of wobbling and the occasional facepalm moment, it’s also been a blast, turning my oops moments into ah-ha ones through good old trial and error.

If you’re struggling with fear or finding it hard to say ‘yes’ to your dreams, I’m here to help. Through Mentor Minutes, I offer personalized advice and strategies tailored to your unique challenges.

Let’s move forward, together, toward a future filled with learning, growth, and endless possibilities. Onward!

Thanks for reading!

Danielle Cullivan Signature

Danielle Cullivan

Career Insight Studio

Danielle Cullivan is a seasoned leader in tech with over 20 years of experience in Fortune 500 companies. She is also the creator of Career Insight Studio, a career and lifestyle blog dedicated to providing insights and new perspectives for working women. Danielle lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and high-school-aged son, and visits her college-age daughter as often as possible! 

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