Coaching Rule #2 – Risk is opportunity


Risk is one of those concepts that means different things to different people. It’s like saying “I’m busy” – what is a huge workload to one person will be a walk in the park to somebody else. It’s all relative.

Everyone has their own risk tolerance, and this could be the product of different experiences. If you have risk-averse parents, there’s a good chance you will have a high risk aversion too. Similarly, if you’ve seen a role model take a big risk that produces a big payoff, you might crave some of that action too. Your financial position, stage of life, personal commitments and self-confidence can also be big influences in how much risk you want in your life.

Engaging a career coach is not in itself a high risk proposition. Lots of people go through a coaching program, learn some stuff, maybe apply a bit of it for a while, and that’s that. Where the real opportunity for payoff comes from is stepping away from what feels comfortable, applying new techniques and ways of solving problems, setting goals that will stretch you and those around you, and embracing higher levels of complexity.

This will produce discomfort, because you have taken on a new level of personal risk. You might start asking yourself questions, like “What if my team doesn’t respond to my new operating rhythm?”, or “What if I embarrass myself speaking at the town hall?”. In my experience, opportunities start to appear even as the learnings from coaching are embedded. As you start to crave more responsibility and operate outside your normal zone, those around you will see you as more confident and capable, and more people might want to work in your team.

Whichever level of risk you wish to bite off, it’s important to be true to yourself (another of Ellis’ rules). People can spot a fake from a mile away, plus it’s not healthy to stretch yourself TOO FAR for a prolonged period of time. The more successful people I have worked with and witnessed have all understood their tolerance for risk, and been prepared to flex it at the appropriate time. Clever career coaching can help you understand that tolerance and how to self-regulate your risk boundaries.

Next week I will examine a rule put forward by legendary football coach Jose Mourinho, about seizing the moment when it presents.


Cadence Leadership Advisory is a leadership development business specialising in coaching people, team leadership and development, strategy review and organisational culture.

Its Founder, Lewis Williams, has over 25 years of leadership experience gained through senior roles at NAB, HSBC and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. A Graduate of AGSM@UNSW, a Graduate Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), and an Approved Advisor with Advisory Board Centre, he instigated and drove development of the 2021 paper “Organisational Culture: Beyond the Intangible” with other alumni of the AICD. He is also an accredited CultureTalk practitioner, a training and development platform that activates the framework of personality archetypes for the growth of leaders, teams, brands and cultures.

FOUNDER: Lewis Williams


MOBILE: 61 (0) 477 371 665

LINKEDIN: cadenceleadershipadvisory/

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