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Why Women Should Take Risks at Work

Elizabeth Lions

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It's scary.

Stepping out of your comfort zone and taking risks. Especially when it can backfire and cause you your paycheck.

Even the most confident women have a flinch point when it comes to risk. She often knows her limits and capabilities so well that she is completely content to keep producing high quality without the risk of well... risk. Taking a risk at work for a women means putting it out there and being subjected to criticism. Ironically, studies found that women's stress level actually goes down when she takes a risk, as opposed to a man. In fact, Nichole R. Lighthall found that gender differences are amplified even further under stress. Male risk-taking tends to increase under stress, while female risk taking tends to decrease under stress. One reason is there are gender differences in brain activity involved in computing risk and preparing for action.


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Sometimes risk taking can be learning and not necessarily doing anything. Calculated risks at work tend to have success over time. What women want to avoid is overthinking.Trust me when I say, I am the poster child for overthinking, myself.

But overthinking can cause us to stop moving. For example, I met with a client last week and she was clearly ready to quit her job search and start her own private marketing consulting business. When probed, she stated she was 'thinking about it'. After exploring the business plan, it was clear that she had thought about it and it was a good option.

Thinking wasn't the issue. Weighing the odds wasn't an issue. Overthinking and hesitation is what stopped her, like most women.

I'd be remiss in this article if I didn't bring up fear of failure as it relates to being risk adverse. We tell ourselves as women that it's the safe way to play it if we just get along and enjoy what we have in our lives.

Fear of failure drives the decision as opposed to facts. Fear is a feeling. Not a fact.Feelings aren't facts and women often have a very hard time separating what they feel from what IS.

It's a crying shame when we let our thoughts prevent us from taking healthy professional risks at work. The worst part is a good company misses out on our ideas when we stay silent.

Here's where our lack of taking risks have brought us today, in 2017.

- According to a study by LeanIn.Org:

- The disparity begins at entry level, where men are 30% more likely than women to be promoted to management roles

- For every 100 women promoted to manager, 130 men are promoted

- Only 40% of women are interested in becoming top executives, compared to 56% of men

I have to ask, is it because we as women, didn't take a risk?

What stopped us?

When we don't ask and step up and embrace the risk, we all lose out.Think of the wonderful opportunities, companies and people that you won't encounter if you shrink back?

I'd like to leave you with some positive quotes that may reframe your thoughts around risk:

"Opportunity does knock just once. It's a revolving door." - Eve Wright, Author

"Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." - Helen Keller

"Go out on a limb. That's where the fruit is." - Jimmy Carter

"Do not fear mistakes. There are none." - Miles Davis

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

Elizabeth Lions is an international speaker and author on career management and leadership.

She is the author of three books, 'Recession Proof Yourself' and "I Quit! Working for You Isn't Working For Me" and a third book was released in 2017 on leadership and is entitled, "Hear Us Roar - Unapologetic Women Leading in Corporate America".

Many of Elizabeth's clients are women in male dominated fields, who are looking for a crash course in how to lead and navigate the office. Many were passed over for promotion or not given the respect they deserve before encountering Elizabeth's message. Elizabeth has designed and developed leadership and career management courses which have been given in the US, Dubai and the Middle East.

Elizabeth has read over 100,000 resumes in her career and hired thousands of professionals in some of America's top organization such as Intel, Fiserv, Wells Fargo and Microsoft, Precision Castparts and AT&T to name a few. An expert adviser on career conundrums, Elizabeth is well known in the press, and has been quoted in Yahoo, The Ladders, and Dice job boards. Her words have reached as far as the front page of the Philadelphia Tribune, PBS, CBS Money Watch, Dale Carnegie and John Tesh's blog.

Bottom line: Elizabeth knows why someone is hired, fired or promoted - which is invaluable to women in today's climate. Understanding how to get along and get ahead in the office is top of mind for today's women of Corporate America. Elizabeth provides clarity where there was once confusion.

Today, Elizabeth can be found writing, coaching and collaborating with the who's who of the Corporate America. When she isn't working, Elizabeth can be found traveling across state lines with her husband on their Harley Davidson motorcycle or in the yoga studio twisting for hours on end.

For more about Elizabeth's philosophies, programs and videos, please visit www.LIONSOLOGY.com

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