Risk and evolution in career

Patricea Pop

9 minutes read

They say the biggest risk in a career is not taking any risks. The ever-changing dynamics of the workplace is like a raging river. How many would surf the waves and allow themselves to go with the dangerous currents?

Not many, I’d say.

A small fraction will have the courage to relinquish control and what they already know. These are the ones who believe they only live once and are ready to experiment and to fail.

Another fraction will refuse to go any further. They will stubbornly cling to their comfort zone and the familiar at all costs. They will look for all sorts of reasons for not jumping in while waiting for the right time and place to make the change happen. Others will simply drift, confused, scared, waiting for someone to rescue them.

Staying stuck in a place, more specifically in your comfort zone, without making mistakes and getting the unpleasant taste of failure is a fatal thing to do in your career nowadays, especially in a context as hectic as this one.

The American journalist Anne Kreamer explains in her book Risk/Reward Matrix why intelligent leaps and daring choices are the best career moves you can make why the best career move in the fast-paced century is to take risks.

She talks about calculated risk taking, not adrenaline junkies and says that when it comes to career change people fall in one of the 4 Risk/Reward typologies, as follows:

  1. Pioneers: usually under 10%. These are the Silicon Valley style risk takers who explore a lot and who are extremely flexible. “You only live once” they claim while they fail a lot, quickly and frequently.
  2. Thinkers: 40%. They are focused, dedicated to their work, consistent and educated and they are secretly dreaming of starting their own business. They can be good entrepreneurs if they can tap into their inner pioneer.
  3. Defenders: 36%. Cautious, loyal, empathetic, good organizers, hard workers and want to stick to their routine.
  4. Drifters: 14% Confused and driven by circumstances, lacking confidence, skills and appropriate competencies for our times.

Why is it that so few of us are open and flexible to the new directions we are shown in our careers and, instead of moving towards a new version of ourselves, we would rather stay put?
The answer is a delicate one, mainly because it has to do with the Ego, the one that loves the comfort zone enormously, the one who resists change and wants to hold you back at all costs, for example:

  • you refuse to receive any outside information, especially if it contradicts with what you already know
  • you wait for something to happen before making a decision
  • you wait for someone to give you permission to move forward
  • taking risks also means a higher level of commitment that you are not willing to take
  • you’re too attached to something that no longer works
  • you’re resisting the next level because it demands you to step up

However, there are things you can do to make this stage more enjoyable.

First, tap into your inner pioneer, that eager, daring guide who sees things from a different angle. Because we activate it far too rarely, we get stuck in the loop of doing what we’ve been doing without finding our way out. You’re not doing anyone any favour when you stay frozen in a situation.

Then, don’t forget about courage. When you focus solely on risks, you overlook past experiences and moments when you did things that seemed scary and…it was worth the effort.

Fear is part of the game and has an intelligence to it that is worth honoring. The challenge comes when the fear button is pushed all the time and when you no longer know what is dangerous and what is not.

Chaos, organization, reorganization.

After months and years of working to build a career path just to find yourself in the situation of having to make radical changes, you’re definitely yearning for some stability. You need meaning, direction, clarity and structure. Moreover, the bits and pieces of you and your inner team need to be gently and skilfully steered towards the new goal.

Your oasis of stability contains all the aspects that have stayed the same, all the people in your life who are present and supportive, and all the rituals that ground yourself. Even if there are few stable elements in your life right now, use them to create a new vision for your work. To avoid projecting your future version of career through the lens of the past, don’t neglect the power of your imagination and creativity.

Last but not least, if you’ve been doing what you “should do” up until now, maybe it’s time to do what you want to do. What could be riskier than embracing the talents you’ve been disconnected from for years?

Remember, you don’t need to know all the steps, succeed the first time or have any guarantees to make changes. For those who are not good friends with change and the unknown, it’s time to revisit big themes like risk appetite, courage, fears and confidence. Because once caught in the whirlwind of transformation, there’s no turning back.

In conclusion, inertia is the enemy of evolution…so make decisions and act courageously.

Subscribe to our newsletter

By subscribing to the newsletter you agree with the privacy policy.

Written by Patricea Pop


It is said that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a simple step and mine started a few summers ago when I wanted to do something for myself, so I enrolled in a coaching programme. This gave me the chance to look at myself from a different perspective: little did I know that it would take me to a different career path, that of being a coach.

After more than 12 years in the corporate world which taught me many lessons and several years of preparation for my new role, I now support people in business to improve their self leadership skills. I think leadership is an inside job and it is part soul searching, part strategy and part relationship skills.

I love writing about work and organizations because it is the place where we invest heavily our time and energy and we often end up feeling stressed, trapped and dissatisfied. My strength relies on my resilience, critical thinking and intuition and I believe it is an honour to accompany someone on their inner journey.

Be the first one to comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *