The book Be Fearless shows us how mindful risk-taking is essential to our progress.
In the book Be Fearless, Jean Case, the author highlights five principles to taking risks:
- Make a big bet
(in the startup world, it is called setting a BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal, for the team (admittedly, most startups are just that before they become something else) and individually)
- Be a bold risk-taker
(going where even angels fear to tread – being foolish helps actually)
- Make failures matter
(everyone makes mistakes – some take it personally and lose valuable lessons from it, others learn by analyzing them and trying to make new ones)
- Reach beyond your bubble
(the most difficult principle to follow as it involves making yourself uncomfortable again and again)
- Let urgency conquer fear
(in other words, shoot and then aim)
Now each of these five principles are applicable in your career-planning exercise as well:
- The traditional career choices of engineering, medical sciences or accountancy have been done to death. Also, given the large number of existing proponents (if you count all your uncles & aunts, you will have a healthy ratio of each of these surely), it is really difficult to make your mark. To top it, the number of sweatshops that have opened up to prepare everyone and their uncle to crack the entry-tests really makes me wonder if it is a bet any longer. A big bet in such a circumstance is to do things that you are passionate about and find ways to build careers in adjacent fields. You love dance – become a performer or a choreographer or an event manager
- The bold risk-taker would do something that you cannot even define yet. Stop chasing the degrees and start chasing the individual interests – a lot of careers today exist in the overlapping zones of different subjects – fintech companies would love to hire a computer scientist with a great understanding of economics, chemists with a background in biology for companies working in chemical ecology, etc.
- Trying things and then leaving them because they do not interest you enough is better than not trying at all. We recommend a simple framework for the same. While the successes are a reward in themselves, in case of mistakes, we recommend following the RALF model (Recognize, Admit, Learn, Forget) to learn from the effort
- The young can take more risks. In fact, even neuroscience supports that – the lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC), the part of the brain responsible for self-regulation, develops gradually over the adolescence period (Albert, et al., 2013. With the right level of mentorship and guidance, this physiological development can be leveraged to help develop new interests and try things before committing time and effort to a particular career
- We are living in a fast-evolving world. As it is digital, time is measured in nanoseconds (1/1,000,000,000) and we have let that seep into everything. This has led to a constant feeling of paucity of time and FOMO (fear of missing out). But the human body is not designed for such feats yet and pushing too much can lead to long-term physiological and psychological disaster that each one of us has to guard against. Our recommendation is to use the Pomodoro technique of time management, wherein you earmark small pockets of time to accomplish things and reward yourself at the end of a successful completion of each of these tasks. It is a useful technique to tackle procrastination also
We live in interesting times. It would be difficult to build out a career in the future with an eye on the rear-view mirror and just copying what everyone else is doing as the circumstances have changed. Unfortunately, hard work alone is not enough to make you successful in the future. Mindfulness and perseverance are the key to both happy living and finding the right career for yourself.