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Taking Chances

5 min read

In seventh grade I stood towards the back of the room, near the door. It was a full gym, as all the parents had come to see the Christmas performance. I didn’t want to sit down because I knew they were going to call my name and I’d have to walk up to stage.

I don’t know how I knew… I just did. I’d known since they announced the contest. It was a fundraiser for the school, and I was going to win the grand prize: a set of downhill skis, poles and boots.

In the back of my mind, I was suppressing that little voice of negativity, but I knew it spoke truth. After all, I had no control over the name the principal would pull out of the big rotating drum. They’d sold a lot of tickets, raised a significant amount of money, and looking at that drum and all the people, I began to feel my first real moments of panic. There WAS a chance I might not win. I squashed the panic, I HAD to win.

I realized that same sense of assuredness washed over me when I submitted my post to win the InfusionCon Bloggers in Motion contest.

In both instances, I was so confident of the outcome that the risk of the unknown somehow flipped in my mind. Instead of there being a “chance” to win, it was a “given” I would win and only a “chance” I would not.

Call it what you want: women’s intuition, a psychic message, positive thinking, arrogance. I refer to it as “gut instinct” and am grateful to have it back. Somewhere in between these two events, I stopped listening to my gut because it’s determinations weren’t based in fact. What followed were many decisions and a some big personal failures, in which I went against that instinct when the facts told me otherwise.

In business, we have the opportunity to make decisions that affect our future every day. And yet somehow, we let those facts cloud our instinctual judgement. Discussions of risk management and focusing on what could go wrong puts the emphasis on our fears rather than our company strengths. Our body’s natural response to fear dwarfs the voice of our base instinct, until we can no longer clearly feel it.

I’m not suggesting you stop considering the risks of a new endeavor, but instead, look at your situation differently. Know your strengths. Know your abilities. Understand that anything you take on WILL be a success if YOU choose it to be. It squashes that fear that seeps insidiously into us. When we consider there is a chance we might not win the account or evaluate the risk of re-branding, we’ll only hear the voice of our instinct instead of our fears.

Granted, I didn’t have much to lose when entering into a contest of chance, but consider this… I knew I would win in the first instance with nothing more than what my intuition told me. In the second instance, I knew I was capable and trusted the decision makers to see that. In business, we have many more clues that will impact our “instinct,” and many more reasons to turn a chance… into a win.