What does the word “adventure” mean to you?
This article is an excerpt from our BizTV video, which can be viewed online, simply by clicking this link.
The word “adventure” is a dirty word in my house, usually interpreted as “Mom got lost again” or “We don’t have a plan” or “Sure, I know the way there”. The more control oriented folks in my family get annoyed when I jump ahead without a plan while I am very comfortable just jumping ahead.
I love to explore what makes my control oriented friends and family are so afraid of adventure. The response is usually some variation on fear: fear of losing control, fear of looking silly, fear of missing out on something else.
Everyone is different. What goes through your mind when I say the word “adventure”? In an informal poll of random acquaintances I took recently, responses varied from high risk sports to something as simple as driving on the expressway. We define adventure in very personal ways.
“Adventure” in your career can mean stepping outside of our normal work-a-day lives to do something different. This can be scary.
Career adventure can bring excitement, new experiences, rewards and recognition. My daughter Marissa left her career, went to business school for her MBA and just started a new career in a new city. Pretty adventurous, don’t you think? Yet she is one of my favorite control freaks, inclined to say no if left to her own devices. She had to be very unhappy in her former career to say yes to all those changes.
As adventurous as I am, sometimes it is easier and more comfortable to just say no and save the adventure for the weekends. We just slog on, day after day. Is that a way you imagined your career?
It seems to me that we say no to career adventure out of fear.
- Do you fear over commitment? There is always a way to accommodate those things you really want to do if you are creative about time and resources.
- Fear making a mistake? We all make mistakes anyway. Being careful and closed-in does not prevent you from making mistakes. So you might as well boldly go where you most fear.
- Looking stupid? Think you don’t occasionally look stupid anyway? Why not revel in it?
- Missing something else? Definitely a first world problem. Be here now and enjoy the “yes” in front of you this time. One “yes” at a time.
From the outside it looks like Shonda Rhimes, the creator of multiple successful TV series, has plenty of adventure in her life. One day she realized that despite her success, big opportunities were passing her by because unless forced, she said no to everything. She was afraid.
Shonda challenged herself to say yes to anything anyone asked to her to do for one year. This simple act changed her life! At her TED talk, My year of saying yes to everything, Shonda said, “The very act of doing the thing that scared me undid the fear” and opened Shonda to adventure she never imagined!
If Shonda Rhimes can do it, why can’t you? Why not start saying yes? What are you afraid of?
Here are three tips to confidently start saying yes:
- Do something unfamiliar. Volunteer for a new project team outside your area. Be aware of your reactions. Revel in that strange tingling. That is just a preview.
- Write “YES” on your hand as a way to remember to be open to possibilities.
- Start small. Once a week, force yourself to say “YES” to one thing you would normally decline. Then every other day, then every day.
Push the fear away and just say yes. A world of career adventure will unfold.