• Is your boss grumpy or unappreciative?

  • Do you have a co-worker who takes credit for your ideas?

  • Is your company or industry in decline?

Most of us don’t do anything about situations like these because deep down we hope something will change.

The boss: Maybe he’s just having a hard time in his own life and things will get better.  OrMy boss’s boss treats him the same wayThat co-workerSurely someone else sees what’s going on?  I’ll let them deal with it!  The company that’s seen better daysSomeone in charge must have a plan to turn things around. Right?

It’s completely normal to hope that something will change and that the best course of action is to be patient.  Sometimes it is. And sometimes it isn’t!

Consider this:

It was a perfect sunny morning in the Caribbean, blue sky and turquoise water. Glorious rolling waves made me squeal with delight as I jumped to be lifted up by the passing waves before they broke and continued on to the beach. One of life’s great pleasures!  As I was heading back to shore, I saw a woman being hammered by the surf as it broke. She seemed paralyzed. I approached, offering to help her back to shore. Once on shore, she explained that she had wanted to swim out so she, too, could be carried up and down by the waves. However, as she moved farther and farther from shore, she became fearful, halting her outbound progress. She was stuck – no longer “safe on the shore” or having fun riding the waves. She was at risk of being knocked down, dragged along the bottom or at least getting a mouth or nose full of water.

In any venture or adventure, there is a moment, when fear and anxiety may overcome your desire to reach your goal. This moment of indecision can trap you at the riskiest point. Like the woman halfway out, you can actually create MORE risk for yourself.

If you have a difficult boss, you may conclude that the safest move is to “keep your head down”. Who would dare talk to a boss or try to find another job in this economy? You figure the risk is too great. So what is the risk of talking to your boss?

I don’t know what to say
I’ll feel foolish
I’ll look foolish
She’ll get mad and things will just get worse
I won’t get a raise or promotion
I’ll get fired

But what are the risks of doing nothing?

I avoid my boss and she believes:
I’m not trying
I don’t have initiative
I’m not committed to the job
I don’t have new ideas
I’m afraid of conflict
I know what I’m doing wrong and continue to do it

And if your boss believes any of the above then . . .

She gets mad and things will just get worse
You won’t get a raise or promotion
You’ll  get fired

And if these things happen, then . . .

You will feel foolish
You will look foolish

Sometimes we take an equal or greater risk when we take NO action. By “playing it safe”, we put ourselves at even greater risk.  Just like the woman stuck in the waves.

Think of a place in your life where you feel stuck. List three actions you can take.

  • What are the risks of taking these actions?
  • What are the risks of NOT taking action? (This is the one it’s easy to ignore).
  • Is your inaction creating more risk than your actions?  Weigh it out.
  • What if you weren’t afraid of taking action? What then?

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About The Author

Elizabeth B. Crook's picture

Elizabeth B. Crook is CEO of Orchard Advisors. For over twenty years, she has worked with CEO's and entrepreneurs to think and act strategically to grow their companies' bottom line and have more overall satisfaction. She has a gift for making sense of complex situations and mapping them so creative and practical approaches emerge. Clients speak of her insight, skill, authenticity, and willingness to ask the hard questions in a gentle way. 

She is also the bestselling author of Live Large: The Achiever’s Guide to What’s Next. Recent media features include ForbesFast CompanyDaily WorthPBS Next AvenueThrive Global, Conscious Company, and BetterBook Club.

A mother, grandmother, and ardent hiker, she lives on Music Row in Nashville. 

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