Risk it all? Maybe…

August 06, 2019

Not every million dollar idea is worth acting on.  That may be surprising for some salespeople to hear.  We’ve been conditioned to be so action oriented, that sometimes our risk assessment skills waver in the face of blind enthusiasm.  The internet reeks of life coaches, motivational speakers, and financial gurus telling us to go for broke. Quit your job, start your own business, chase your passion, go hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt to get rich off real estate investments – you’ll never get big gains if you don’t take big chances.  I call bullshit.

By the time I started my career in sales leadership, I had already started my family.  Gone were the days when I could sleep on a friend’s couch, live on Top Ramen, and work 100 hours a week.  I had more mouths than just my own to feed. Risking their dinner and lifestyle wasn’t worth indulging in my own daydreams.  I had to choose where to focus my energy, and it had to be a safe enough bet to keep my family comfortable. I didn’t jump off any major cliffs in my career and yet, I have no regrets.

There are people in the world who are still in the phase of their life where they can dedicate every waking hour to their dream and sacrifice everything to pursue it.  Those are the kind of people I team up with. In the world of business, it takes both of us. Myself, being somewhat risk averse, can walk into a company and build a sales organization from the ground up without having to put my own neck on the line as the CEO or founder.  I get health benefits and a salary I can count on while enjoying the thrill of doing exactly what I love to do – growing a company. A person with a billion dollar idea and no inhibitions can lay it all out on the line for their passion – and maybe even succeed if they have a few of us safe bets on their payroll.

You have to decide what risks are right for you.  No one else can tell you that. No broadly generalized inspirational words of affirmation should dictate your choices. Neither should this post. What worked for me so far might not work for you at all. I take my self-empowerment with a healthy dose of reality.  I took a risk writing a book.  I didn’t know if anyone would buy it or if anyone would like it.  I took a bigger risk booking the first Surf and Sales Summit.  I didn’t know if anyone would reserve a spot and pay back my investment.  But, while I was doing both of those, I was otherwise securely employed with enough income that if I busted on both endeavors, my kids would never know the difference.  I would never have to sit them down and tell them dad had to make some budget cuts that would forever change their happy little world.

Maybe you’re still in a phase of life where jumping off a proverbial cliff makes sense.  Maybe you need to be more cautious than even I do. Everyone you meet will tell you their opinion one way or the other.   Just make sure that at the end of the day, yours is the most important opinion you listen to.