- So as you're deciding to take on risk, I want you to do something here. I want you to sit down and get super uncomfortable and think through the worst case scenario, failure. The big F, the F word. It's something that we all really struggle with, even though I know there's an entire group of LinkedIn influencers who write about failing and failing fast and moving forward quickly, the truth is, in many of the industries in which we operate, failure is still a pretty bad word.
And so I want you to sit down and think about what that failure means and how uncomfortable that would be for you. I want you to compare the upside, downside of success with that failure. But what really happens if you fail? So to go back to the story I told at the beginning, when I was asked to be director of research, I was at the time a successful research analyst. And I sat down and thought about, if I become director of research and I fail, what is that downside? I'm going to be embarrassed. I'm gonna be embarrassed for a day, I'm gonna be embarrassed for a week, I might be embarrassed for a year, I'm gonna be embarrassed.
Will my husband be embarrassed? He probably won't be so embarrassed. Will my children be embarrassed? They're four, they won't notice. But I'm gonna be embarrassed for a period of time. What happens to my career and what happens to us financially? And the truth is, at the time it wasn't as bad as I thought it could be. I'd been a successful research analyst. If it happened, I was gonna be a research analyst again. I don't think anybody was gonna look and say, oh, you were a great research analyst, you failed as director of research, you're out, you're humiliated and forever.
And so by really plumbing the depths of what failure could mean, once I acknowledged the embarrassment and wrote it down and moved past it, the downside actually wasn't so bad. And in each career move as I've thought about it, once you get the F word out, once you get the E, the embarrassment word out, the downside wasn't so bad. My start-up, as I thought about doing it, okay, what happens if we fail? That's gonna be sorta bad 'cause we took outside money, took outside money from some of my, I don't know, friends is too strong a word, but friends, so that's gonna make for an awkward Christmas party.
Let me write that down. The newspaper is probably gonna write about it, that's gonna be embarrassing, let me write that down. Again, my husband probably won't be as embarrassed as I am about it, my kids, now they're teenagers, they're highly self-absorbed, they're gonna be okay, my cat isn't gonna much care, I think we're gonna be fine. And what's my real downside beyond that? Well, I would have picked up a bunch of new skills, I would have really stretched myself, I would have had a heck of a good time for a period of time, and you know what? I could probably go on to do something that's even more cool or awesome because I've got skills that very few people who have my background have.
Huh, that's pretty cool. And the upside again, make a difference, have an impact, build a great business, this feels pretty good to me. So what I want you to do as you're thinking about, you're taking on that risk, you're ready to make that jump, be very clear with yourself about what the downside is and just really think about that embarrassment, that failure, that fear of it, it's not gonna be as bad as you think, I promise.
What's holding you back? How can you gain the confidence necessary to take risks and chance failing? Sallie Krawcheck is a LinkedIn Influencer and one of the most successful and influential executives in financial services. She has built her career and reputation on thoughtful risk-taking. Here she shares an approach that will help you to take chances while mitigating risk—and keep you on the track to growth and continued opportunity.