These career risks are worth it
Share on Linkedin
Everyone should take a risk at some point in their career. (Credit: Thinkstock)

Some people are natural risk-takers — willing to join a start-up, take a job they’re passionate about, hire a not-quite-perfect candidate with potential.

But many times, fear of failure holds people back in their careers. Are there calculated risks that are actually worth taking? Can you use fear to your advantage to get ahead? Several LinkedIn Influencers weighed in on these topics this week. Here’s what two of them had to say.

Jeff Haden, ghostwriter and owner, BlackBird Media

“What is the one thing most of us already have enough of? Regret,” Haden wrote in his post Huge Risks Everyone Needs to Take (At Least Once). “You can always recover, learn and build from mistakes.” Doing nothing is a mistake, however. “When you do nothing, that automatically means there is nothing to improve, salvage or discover.”

Of course, there’s a difference between bad risks and smart risks. Haden offered five “smart risks you should take before you die”. Among them:

“Hire or promote a person you ‘shouldn’t’ hire or promote.” Haden took an informal poll of entrepreneur friends and “each said at least one of their most remarkable employees was a person they took a chance on,” he wrote. “Someone who didn't have the ‘right’ qualifications, or didn't have the "right" background, or was too young or too inexperienced or too new to the industry.” These people told Haden that they took the risk because “they had a hunch… they spotted an intangible quality… they loved the person’s attitude or enthusiasm or intelligence or work ethic.”

“Apologise for a huge mistake you made.” Little things are easy to own up to and apologise for, Haden wrote. “But sometimes we've done something so bad, so egregious… that we don't say we're sorry. We're too embarrassed. Too ashamed. Too mortified. So we run away from the situation, often for years. We wish it would go away,” he wrote. “But it doesn't. And whenever we think about it, we feel a little worse about ourselves... Say you're sorry…You may get yelled at. You may be humiliated. But you'll also feel good that you finally stepped up. And you also may repair a friendship or relationship you thought was beyond any hope of recovery.”

“Face one of your worst fears. Anyone hoping to achieve great things gets nervous,” Haden wrote. “Productive people aren't braver than others; they just find the strength to keep moving forward. They realise fear is paralysing, while action creates confidence and self-assurance.” So what should you do? “Pick something you'd love to do but are scared to do. Don't try to get over your fear. Accept that you will be afraid. And then go do it anyway.”

Nick Mills, principal consultant at Eureka Training

If two people are similarly well-trained, ambitious and promising, what makes the difference for the one who lives a successful life and the one who does not?

 “It comes down to one simple thing,” wrote Mills in his post Fear of Failure? Embrace It. “The brains of successful and unsuccessful people are separated in how they view personal change.”

“Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck has discovered that true success is all about mindset. Successful people tend to focus on growth, solving problems and self-improvement, while unsuccessful people think of their abilities as fixed assets and, therefore, avoid challenges,” Mills wrote. “More importantly, successful people don’t view failure as failure. Instead, they see it as an opportunity for learning, adapting and becoming better.”

So how can you change your own mindset? Mills offers eight practical ways to do it. Among them:

“Resist the urge to use self-defeating language… If you don’t feel well, never say it aloud to anyone,” wrote Mills. “Instead, say, ‘I could use more energy’. Also avoid the use of limiting words. Never say cannot when referring to yourself. Instead, reach for a higher-energy statement such as ‘When I can…’ Other limiting words include hopefully, perhaps, one day and maybe.”

“Begin and end your day positively. Before you go to sleep at night, thank yourself for a great day,” wrote Mills. “When you wake up, the first words in your head should be something like, ‘I feel absolutely fantastic, glad to be alive. I know today will be successful for me’.”

“Look beyond the goal. If all you really want is to land a specific client, by setting this as your intention and thinking of it every day, you will no doubt get it. But if you set your intentions much larger than your core desire — say, to acquire ten new significant clients this year — you trigger several positive psychological benefits,” Mills wrote. “As you daydream and imagine a larger scenario, your core desire starts to feel easy and much more attainable.”

To comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Capital, please head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.

Around the BBC