Is playing it safe your best bet at work? Should you sit in the same spot, do the same things every day, and stay at the same company for years and years? Or would you be better rewarded if you were to change things up a little, if you were more willing to take on different tasks and challenge yourself professionally?
Could taking risks be good for your career? Let's take a look:
Risk-Takers Gain Experience
Knowledge is linked to success, and one way to accrue more and more knowledge is to take risks — to leap into the unknown and see what's there. At work, this could mean learning a new skill, going out of your comfort zone, leading a new project, or stepping into a management role. Whatever risk you take, it will likely earn you significant experience, perhaps by improving your public-speaking skills or teaching you how to manage teams. Those are the kind of things you can put on your resume to attract future employers.
Risk-Takers Could Earn More Money
Some business experts agree that those who are willing to take risks at work are likely to earn more money than their risk-averse peers.
Jason Hanold, CEO of Chicago-based executive search firm Hanold Associates, told Inc. that those employees who have an appetite for taking risks — such as volunteering to transfer to a new overseas office — are likely to see faster promotions and higher salaries.
"With each one of those moves, you have an opportunity for accelerated learning, accelerated compensation, versus someone who finds a place they're comfortable and sets and perches right there," Hanold said.
Risk-Takers Tend to Get Noticed
People who take risks often stand out and get noticed as a result. This doesn't mean they are show-offs. Rather, taking risks shows they are capable of leadership, management, and direction.
Tamara Abdel-Jaber, CEO of tech company Palma and named one of the 100 Most Powerful Arab Women by Arabian Business Magazine in 2011, told Women 2.0: "The way I see it, many people in [the Middle East] don't have many resources and knowledge. In order to stand out, expend a little extra effort. ... I am passionate about knowledge and pursued that from an early age by working hard in school, and have continued to do so throughout my life. My knowledge helps me to be confident, and I like taking risks."
Do Men Take More Risks Than Women?
Research suggests men are twice as likely to take risks at work as women are, but whether or not this is linked to success is unclear. Research also shows that age is connected to risk appetite, with younger people more inclined to take risks than those who are older.
Risk-Raking Is About Goals
Taking a risk doesn't mean acting randomly. In many cases, risk is strategic and linked to a number of overarching goals and objectives. A risk-taker defines their goal, then sets about achieving it, managing the inevitable stumbling blocks that cross their path.
The world of business is filled with many examples, chief of which is probably that of late Apple boss Steve Jobs, who transformed a company and revolutionized a market — all by having goals and taking risks to achieve those goals.
While we take risks every single day, doing it for career purposes should be given some serious thought. Research and business experts — including people who have taken risks themselves and have seen the positive results — suggest that taking risks can lead to success. To quote Mark Zuckerberg, "In a world that's changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks."
Irma Hunkeler works for BlueGlass.co.uk, a digital marketing agency.