03 Feb
Taking Calculated Risks is Key for Career Success

Taking Calculated Risks is Key for Career Success

Posted by: Maryanne Piña

For the ambitious Latinos out there, we all know taking risks is in our roots. Facing an uncertain situation? That’s no problem; we Figure it Out!

Taking calculated risks can be the difference between an ordinary and extraordinary life. As someone born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas, I know firsthand the difference 328 feet makes in terms of opportunity on either side of the USA and the Mexican border. However, our risks shouldn’t stop with immigration – embracing “calculated” risk will also make a difference between mediocre and extraordinary careers.

Calculated Risks

In our LCA™ research, we identified the behaviors that predict career success. Near the top of the list is the behavior of taking calculated risks. Risk is inherent in progressing in any aspect of one’s life – embracing the unknown of a move, a new relationship, or a new job/career is needed for progression. However, it is not risk that propels; it is “calculated” risk that is necessary.

I speak from experience. The most significant leaps in my career involved risk. For example, I spent the first 10 years of my career in education. I loved many aspects of my roles and the potential for impact on students and the community. However, I became increasingly frustrated with many parts of the education track, including the bureaucracy and demands that seemed to detract from our mission of educating the children. After some assessment and reflection, I realized that I needed to take a leap out of the education track if I wanted to find future career engagement and success.

I could have stayed in education and gone through the motions for 20 more years before retiring. That was what many people did. Instead, I did some research and pursued a very different set of opportunities. When I finally left my job in education, it was a risk, but it was based upon self-insight and a thoughtful approach to my next career move. It was a risk worth taking, propelling my career in ways I could never have imagined.

Yes, it is true taking a leap of faith in your career can be daunting, but the upside potential is worth considering. With careful planning and risk assessment, you don’t have to sacrifice your values or peace of mind when making those bold moves. In fact, the greater danger is that you won’t embrace the risk needed for career engagement and success—that should be what keeps you up at night.

Change requires risk. Be planful, then lean in!

Latinos Taking Calculated Risks

We have a growing number of Latinos blazing trails in the workforce and taking charge of their career progression! A great example is Tony Jimenez, and as Zach Baliva stated in his article Tony Jimenez Finds Success through Calculated Risks, “Tony Jimenez is fearless. He leads a half-billion-dollar tech integrator that serves the biggest government agencies and the top names in international business. But long before there was MicroTech, Jimenez was just a Navy brat from California who had to learn how to navigate the tech world as a Latino.”

Despite all the hurdles they face, individuals from our community are showing how powerful calculated risks can be to bring visibility, growth, and a sense of accomplishment – creating a new path for future generations.

So why is taking calculated risks important for Latino Career Progression?

As Latinos in the workforce, we may not always have access to the same resources or pathways as our peers, maybe we’re not at the right level to qualify for company-sponsored programs, or maybe there’s self-doubt holding us back, but that doesn’t mean we should settle for staying stuck. Risks might feel intimidating at first, but they’re worth it if we want to reach new heights—they show commitment and dedication toward our professional growth while giving us more real-life experiences under our belt. So, lean into discomfort. Take smart chances today with confidence.

How to take a calculated risk in your career?

It takes courage to take charge and challenge yourself, but it also provides an opportunity to grow and expand professionally. Consider what risks could help expand or advance your professional skills, be sure the potential consequences are worth it, then jump in with both feet. You never know where this brave decision might take you.

So how do we go about making these calculated risks?

Here are some tips that might help you on your career journey – as Mom said, “A quien madruga, Dios lo ayuda” (The early bird, God helps).

1. Know the Skills You Have

Unlock your potential by getting to know yourself better! Taking the time and effort to review your strengths and weaknesses is essential before taking any risks. Doing so will help you make informed decisions, as well as give you a sense of security when facing uncharted waters – knowing that whatever may come, you have what it takes inside of yourself to succeed. As part of this self-reflection:

  • Ask a few people you trust for feedback on what you do well.
  • Think about the roles you enjoy most – consider what was common among all of the roles.
  • Take a few preference assessments that highlight your profile, including the Latino Career Assessment™.

2. Remember, Mistakes Are Good

When taking risks, it is important to understand that making mistakes is part of the process. Don’t be afraid of failure – instead, use it as a learning experience and view it as an opportunity to grow and become better prepared for future challenges. Making mistakes doesn’t mean you’re not good enough; it just means there’s room for improvement and growth in certain areas. Use mistakes as fuel for success!

3. Faith Over Fear

It’s natural to feel fear when taking risks, but don’t let fear hold you back from achieving your goals! Instead, focus on the successes that could come from taking calculated risks and use those successes as motivation to keep going even when things get tough.

Personally, the only thing I’m afraid of is failing to try. By understanding that mistakes are part of the process and staying focused on success over fear, Latinos can find themselves well-equipped to take calculated risks to lead extraordinary careers.

So embrace uncertainty and unpredictability because taking calculated risks is a key career predictor of success!

How do you measure taking calculated risks? Take the Latino Career Assessment™ and find out.


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"We are providing Latino professionals the opportunity to gain self-awareness and cultural intelligence to support their career journey while being true to their values and identity."
- Maryanne Piña Frodsham

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