Secrets of Success   ̶   Risk Taking    

You cannot get ahead in this world if you’re not willing to take a risk and venture out of your comfort zone.  As you read the Chapters on my life and career you will see that taking risks was a constant during my career.  In fact I started taking risks very early in my life.  For example, when I started my ‘Light Bulb’ business when I was 11 I took a huge risk.  I didn’t have the money to pre-purchase the bulbs so I collected money for each order in advance taking the risk that the company I was dealing with would actually send me the light bulbs once I sent the payment.

Another early example was when I was 15 and there were no summer jobs in Owen Sound.  Instead of sitting around all summer and complaining about it like many of my friends, I hitch-hiked to Southampton, a resort town about 25 miles from Owen Sound.  Then when I found a job at a motel and gas station I make arrangements to pitch a tent behind the motel when I stayed all summer.

Although it was a risk in itself to leave Owen Sound to join the Navy, my first major risk I took in regard to my naval career was when I took Leave Without Pay to study electronic technology at Nova Scotia Institute of Technology. I had no source of income and had the additional expense of text books and school supplies.  Fortunately, your grandmother stood by me and we managed to make it through. 

Many of the greatest risks I took occurred after my naval career. Although many would say that leaving the relative stable environment of the navy and the security of a Commander‘s salary was a major risk in itself. These risks largely involved changing jobs.  For example, in 2005 I held a senior position at a university in Victoria with a relatively comfortable salary.  I could have stayed in that position for another ten years and been quite comfortable.  However, I had recently earned an MBA degree and felt that I needed to do much more to reach my full potential.  As a result I took a significant risk and accepted a position at Seneca College in Toronto and moved some 3,000 miles to Ontario.

Leaving the comfort and security of a senior position can be a major decision for many. You’re comfortable with your surroundings, you’re familiar with your responsibilities and you have great colleagues. You could stay in the position for life and become part of the furniture .... or, you could take a risk and venture out of your comfort zone to seek that promotion with greater challenges and responsibilities.

You will be faced with this decision many times in your life. Do you let your fear of failure dominate your decision-making and become complacent, or do you take a risk and let your desire for greater learning and growth dominate? If you want to be ‘Successful’ and reach your ’Full Potential’ you will need to muster up the courage and confidence and take a risk.  It will not be comfortable. You will constantly wonder if you made the right decision and it will take some time to regain the security and level of comfort that you had in your previous position.  However, you will succeed and in a few years be ready to make your next move. In fact I have consistently advocated to those reporting to me that you should be seeking positions of greater responsibility every 3 to 5 years.  As well, I’ve often said that if you can’t achieve this within your current organization then you need to be prepared to change organizations.

Although, striving to reach your full potential can be unnerving, it can also be very rewarding.  For example, I made three major job changes during the last ten years of my working career and in making these job changes my salary increased by over three hundred percent.



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