May 10, 2016

    Take risks - do not be afraid to fall

    IN HIS May Day rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recounted a grim anecdote of the bad times that Singapore must brace itself for.

    A port workers' unionist told Mr Lee that "there was one day when, for two shifts out of three, PSA's Tanjong Pagar Terminal did not receive a single ship", reported The Straits Times on May 1.

    Outlining the "time of change" that workers are living in, Mr Lee talked about hard-hit industries as well as bright spots like information and communications technology, insurance and health.

    He also called for businesses to transform their mindsets and make things happen instead of just trying to float above the competition.

    "Be the disruptor," Mr Lee had said.

    Where career is concerned, the "disruptor" attitude starts with defining success - your way.


    So you are risk-averse; most people are. You dislike to lose whatever you already have so you expend energy trying to mitigate loss - often by way of doing nothing.

    But taking few risks means achieving few rewards. As a calculated risk taker, you can make things happen that lead to personal "wins". For a start, see change and ambiguity as opportunities to capitalise on.

    Consider yourself unsuccessful if you resent or fear change, and fight to stick with the status quo.

    Doing so may cause you to be passed over for promotions as you could come across as inflexible and stuck in the past.


    When unexpected opportunities present themselves from time to time, how often do you overthink things, allowing the opportunity to slip away?

    Ensure that "no" is not the automatic response when a chance, say, to take on a new project comes up. Take time to think things through.

    The experience and advantage you gain by acting on the opportunity may lead you in interesting directions.

    Consider yourself unsuccessful if you continually find reasons for not seizing a chance.


    The ability to build positive relationships cannot be over-emphasised. These partnerships can become increasingly valuable over time.

    Examine the life of the world's change-makers and you will notice that many were members of an intellectual group that got together to exchange ideas.

    They learnt from their peers about what's working and what's not.

    Note, too, that in many of the life-changing innovations, the inventor built on the work of others. This suggests that they were in the know.

    Consider yourself unsuccessful if you do not bother to do these things because you think too highly of yourself.


    You have to consistently show up and do the hard work to achieve something.

    You boost your chances of reaching goals by acknowledging the barriers that you will inevitably face, and by finding ways to eliminate or work around them.

    When a confident person makes a mistake or experiences failure, he learns the lessons and is careful to not repeat it.

    He also takes responsibility, such as by apologising and seeking ways to mitigate the possible fallout.

    Consider yourself unsuccessful if you typically point the finger at others when things go wrong.


    In his seminal tome, How To Read A Book, American philosopher and author Mortimer Adler says reading provides information to further your knowledge on a subject matter.

    Reading can set you thinking and expand your world view.

    Assimilate knowledge in other ways too: Listen to podcasts, take courses and observe others. Lifelong learning is a part of a savvy individual's DNA.

    Consider yourself unsuccessful if you believe that learning ends when you leave school, or read only for escape, or merely vegetate in front of the television set in your free time.

    That said, in your daily routine, focus on one thing at a time. Research has shown that multi-tasking does not work.

    Businessman and master networker George Fraser says that you can walk down only one road at a time.

    It is sage advice.

    Follow it.


    As a smart person, you know that the pie of success is ever expanding. You have an abundance mindset because you know that no one makes it alone.

    Top salesman and author Zig Ziglar captures the sentiment: "You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want."

    Embrace the achievements of others and be willing to help them score.

    Take the time to thank others and give credit where it's due, which builds goodwill.

    Consider yourself unsuccessful if you have a fixed-pie or a scarcity mindset: You do not want others to succeed because you think it will impact your achievements. This mentality does not work in today's sharing economy because the field is wide open to competition.

    Worse, you feel that you need to be in the spotlight all the time. You present yourself as being more accomplished than you really are, taking credit for other people's work.

    This will backfire in today's social-media-intense economy as you will be outed in no time.


    Do not magnify your hits or misses. Learn to put things in perspective.

    A level head will take you a great distance, and prevent you from stumbling unnecessarily along the way.

    When you do excel at something, celebrate your wins, even the small ones.

    What about the times when you fall short?

    As author, innovator and futurist Ray Kurzweil puts it: "I've always considered failures just to be success deferred."

    This article was contributed by Right Management, the global career experts within United States-listed HR consulting firm ManpowerGroup.