Risk Is Your Best Friend: One Question To Boost Your Career


Risk. It’s a concept we are taught about when we are young. The more you risk, the more you’re rewarded. Like everyone else, I knew the concept, but never applied it to my life. That was until I realized how powerful it can be.


Last year I was in a dead end job. The hours were long, the work was boring, and I wanted to switch to a different role. People were leaving the company left and right. Over 11 people left in 3 months. For context, the average turnover rate was 3 people a year at this company.


My clients grew more problematic. My hours were only getting longer. My schedule was chaotic.


I wasn’t the only one hurting.


I could see my manager struggling. She needed to hire 4 people to fill out our department, manage her regular client load, and train new employees. She knew she was understaffed, and at first, it didn’t seem like the time to ask a change.


However, I knew I couldn’t keep up the pace. If the problems kept growing I would be looking for a new job real fast. I had to take a calculated risk.


The timing worked out so my performance meeting was during the height of the office disarray. I knew I only had one shot. At the end of the meeting she asked, “Do you have any questions for me?” I said, “What do you feel is your biggest risk and how can I help?


My manager took a second to let the question process. She said, “Nobody has asked me this before. I will need a bit of time to think about it.” We both exited the meeting. At first, I was confused because I expected an instantaneous answer, but life had other plans.


Two weeks later my manager came up to me. She said, “I thought about your question. I really could use some help on hiring and training. As you know, we’ve lost over 11 people in 3 months. I can train you a little bit in what to look for, but you might have to switch up your schedule a bit. Also, thanks for saying something. If you didn’t ask I don’t know what I would’ve done.”


Her last line caught me by surprise. I wasn’t sure the question even worked, but now my hours were changing, I got better projects, and I was doing work I wanted to do while helping my manager.  This was a win for the both of us.


The new projects and schedule worked wonders. My manager got more freedom in her schedule and in return she took time to help me grow. I never would have guessed one question would have changed my entire situation.


Without taking the risk I wouldn’t have changed my situation. However, like many other people had no clue how risk could help me. At first, I was risk averse.  

As Humans we are Typically Risk Averse


Risk aversion means someone will likely not take a risk when a situation presents itself. In the context of career, it could mean you don’t take a promotion because it risks your current schedule. In relationships, you don’t talk to someone your interested in because they might reject you.


Human beings are typically risk averse. If risk scares you, then you’re not alone. Our brain developed over thousands of years to fear taking chances. Heck, even our adrenal system shoots cortisol, a stress hormone, to remind us we are scared.


The problem we run into is we have too little risk. In your career how many times have you seen an opportunity to grow, develop, or move up, and then say “it’s not worth my time?” How many times have you looked at someone else’s life and said “I can’t do what they do.” Well, there is a negative side to not taking risks.


Risk Equals Growth


Taking chances is the reason why entrepreneurs start new foundations. How do you think the CEOs became CEOs? Taking risks allows you to grow in ways you never thought you could.


Let’s look at the modern day work place. Depending on where you live, the average worker spends almost 47+ hours a week working away. If your lucky, managers, CEO’s, and even your co workers care about you enough to ask “what are you getting out of this?”


You know the long hours are affecting you. You know they want to support you in your career. You know they want the best from you. The problem is, you think the risk to ask for something might cost you in the long term.


Who can blame you? You see everyone else doing it. You see this as the norm in your workplace. If nobody is taking risks why should you?


The risk of keeping the status quo not only hurts yourself, but the people in your workplace as well. Grinding the daily iron wears the edge down.  Is there something you can do to change your



One question.  Using only one question you change your situation. It’s as simple as that.


Owning the Risk


Remember, you’re not alone in your career. Your managers, CEO, and co workers want the best from you. This requires a big step to own yourself worth. If you don’t own it, then who will?

Your Managers, CEOs, and co workers are also struggling with the challenges in their own lives. This is where you can contribute real and sincere value to your career. One question can change the dynamic at work.


Try asking your manager at the next meeting, “What do you feel is your biggest risk and how can I help you with it?”


By asking that one question you just flipped the relationship on its head. Now, your manager tells you what they truly value. They also give you a hint, and in some situations, a chance to solve a burning pain in their work life.


You also have a chance to collaborate and negotiate. Your manager will appreciate the time you took to focus on their concerns. They will see you as a team player and actively look for ways to help you help them.


By understand their risks, you have negotiating power. By helping them with special projects, concerns, or events you can negotiate a better position for yourself and they will happily give it to you.


Been wanting that schedule change? Or that next promotion? Well, you have a question to assist you in opening up other opportunities. The key to this question and tactic is to make sure you’re providing real value to the other person.

Risk is Your Best Friend


Like any best friend, risk helps you grow. The more you practice the better you are at knowing when to act and when not to.


So what’s the key takeaway here? The key lesson is to take a chance at helping another person to help you. Your managers, CEOs, and co workers have different risks they take every day.

Simply asking them is a great way to see what they value and how you can help them.


It takes practice. Looking at my example, the payoff didn’t come back for another two weeks, but when it did it changed my entire work life. You can have a similar result. All it takes is one question.


Action Step
Ask one manager, CEO, or co worker, “What is your biggest risk and how can I help with that?”Risk Is Your Best Friend: One Question To Boost Your Career